Self-compassion is the missing ingredient that stops the negative thinking habit.
It’s not about being selfish but rather being kind to yourself, acknowledging that it’s okay to make mistakes or feel bad sometimes.
Self-compassion helps you treating yourself with kindness and understanding when you make a mistake or experience a difficult situation.
Self-compassion helps you to look at the big picture. Life is full of both positive experiences and negative experiences. Self-compassion is what helps you to look at both sides of life non-judgmentally, so you can move forward with clarity and prevent a negative thinking habit.
Courageously embracing self-compassion will change your life in many ways.
The immediate benefits are less negative thinking, more motivation, greater resilience, and more happiness. But the ultimate goal is to fully accept ourselves as we are – which can lead us towards living a fulfilling life.
What’s the big deal about self-compassion?
I believe that self-compassion is crucial for success, well-being and happiness because it’s an antidote for negative thinking and poor self-esteem. It might not be the most important factor in happiness, but it’s certainly one of the most important.
So why is self-compassion so important in our lives?
The short answer is that it helps us to overcome negative thinking. And to do that, we need to be able to feel compassion for ourselves— when we are suffering.
The goal of the rest of this article is not to teach you how to be compassionate towards yourself when you are suffering, but rather to provide you with the knowledge that will help you understand how self-compassion can help you overcome negative thinking and achieve your goals faster. Hopefully, the result is less suffering in your life.
Imagine you are in a high-pressure situation where you can’t understand what’s going on and no one is willing to give you the answers. Think about the last time you had a client or employee who just isn’t getting what you’re communicating. You try to figure out how to communicate more effectively and yet, they blame you for not helping them get the result they want.
As the stress and tension grows, so does your frustration and anger until finally you burst out in a rage of screaming at your family, crying and feeling life a failure too.
Now imagine how you would feel if this happened to you. Would you feel content, happy and satisfied? Or perhaps sad, downcast and disappointed? More than likely it would be the latter. This is because we often judge ourselves very harshly on our own mistakes. When you can practice self-compassion, it helps to be more accepting yourself.
High self-esteem doesn’t always result more motivation and success. A person with high self-esteem can still feel frustrated, disappointed and demotivated sometimes. In fact, some people with high self-esteem have a hard time overcoming their own negative thoughts and they keep on feeling frustrated or discouraged even though they believe strongly in themselves.
Having a more realistic view of ourselves helps us to acknowledge our shortcomings while still having confidence in ourselves. This is where self-compassion comes into play.
In psychology, the term “self-compassion” was coined by Kristin Neff, a researcher from the University of Texas. In her experiments, self-compassion has been shown to be crucial in overcoming negative thoughts and feelings about ourselves. It helps us to take a step back from our thoughts and see them for what they are – just thoughts.
How does self-compassion help you?
According to Kristin Neff’s research on self-compassion, it helps us in four crucial ways:
1. It stops the vicious cycle of self-criticism.
When you’re in a critical frame of mind, it can be hard to think about yourself in any other way. The more you beat yourself up, the more negative thoughts you have about yourself, and the more frustrated and demotivated you become.
Many people get stuck in a cycle where they criticize themselves for not being good enough. “I don’t have what it takes to get where I want.” These thoughts can this quickly turn into a vicious cycle that keeps on going round and round.
But sometimes we can outsmart ourselves by saying things like: “I know I haven’t been doing well lately and I’ll improve soon. I’m sure I can get better at this. I want to do better. I don’t want to give up.”
2. It helps put things in perspective.
When we have a positive view of ourselves, it’s easier for us to see ourselves in a calm and realistic manner instead of seeing ourselves in a negative manner that gets us down over and over again. Self-compassion allows us to be more objective when trying to resolve our problems instead of being stuck in the situation.
The more self-compassion you have, the less you worry about things and the less often you experience negative emotional states such as anxiety, sadness and stress (Neff & Conner 2014).
Empathy is one of the most important aspects of self-compassion, and it’s the major reason why self-compassion is so effective. Research shows that those who are more self-compassionate experience less negative emotions like anxiety and depression (Neff & Vonk 2010).
3. It helps you be more resilient to negative events.
A person with low self-esteem can feel bad about their self after not meeting his goals. A person with high self-esteem might not care as much. However, a person with low self-esteem can feel very discouraged and unmotivated.
Although there is a clear link between low self-esteem and depression, there is also a link between high self-esteem and anxiety (Neff 2015). In her research, Neff found that anxiety can be reduced by practicing more compassion toward oneself. This led to less negative emotional states such as anxiety.
This was a major finding for Neff since a major factor in the development of depression and anxiety is our negative thoughts.
When you practice self-compassion it can help to relax us and bring us back to a more positive mindset. This can help to alleviate negative emotional states such as anxiety, frustration and sadness (Neff 2015).
4. It helps you be motivated about your goals.
If we judge ourselves based on our own actions, we feel like we will never be able to do anything right or achieve anything important. As a result, we feel less motivated about our goals and we give up faster. Self-compassion is a powerful motivator because it helps you to enjoy your accomplishments and learn from your failures.
Neff found that self-compassion helps us to have a more positive mindset about ourselves and the world around us. This can lead to being more motivated to achieve your goals. When you trust yourself and look forward to achieving things with a good attitude.
Self-compassion has a direct impact on negative thinking and self-esteem. It isn’t “going easy on yourself” or “letting yourself off the hook,” so you can avoid accountability. Self-compassion helps you to view situations as they are. Which helps to improve your relationship with yourself as your life becomes less stressful and more fulfilling.