What?! You Mean There is an Alternative to Feeling Inadequate All the Time. Increasing Self Compassion, and Why It Isn't Wimpy or Indulgent.
Research into the psychological benefits of self-compassion is an emerging trend in psychology. I actually prefer the term self kindness.
Self-compassion is about learning alternative responses when you are experiencing psychological suffering (suffering includes when you’re feeling frustrated, anxious, or when you’re feeling disconnected from other people etc), rather than using self-criticism.
Online Self-Compassion Test
You can take an online test of your self-compassion here at self-compassion.org
The test auto scores.
If you want to work on self-compassion, you might choose to take the test now, and then set yourself a calendar reminder to retake the self-compassion test in 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months time. Record your answers and observe changes.
A generation ago, parenting advice seemed to focus on raising high self esteem children. After that, came a focus on mindful parenting and raising mindful children.
Now it seems like a focus on raising self-compassionate kids might be the next big thing.
Compassion and mindfulness are closely linked since mindfulness is needed to notice your own and others’ psychological suffering, and to recognize how you are responding to yourself/others (with criticism or with kindness) and its effects.
Is self compassion linked to self esteem? Self compassion is more closely linked to the self worth aspect of self esteem than the aspect of self esteem that is about being good at things, or being better than average.
(Self esteem that is hinged on being better than average is a recipe for trouble, because by definition the majority of people are average or worse in terms of any one attribute).
Self Compassion tends to lead to more skillful responding to yourself and the world
People worry that self-kindness will cause them to become lazy or dysregulated, but its more likely to do the opposite. If you have been trying self criticism as a way of regulating your behaviour, then its time to try something else.
Self Compassion Research
This is an interesting study. You can view it free online.
It’s about how self compassion buffers people against the stress of negative events.
The authors conclude “In general, these studies suggest that self-compassion attenuates people’s reactions to negative events in ways that are distinct from and, in some cases, more beneficial than self-esteem.”
Self-compassion helps people feel more connected to others and tends to lead to more pro-social behaviour.
In other words – it is the opposite of selfish!
Dr Kristin Neff’s book about Self Compassion
The author of the website I have linked to, Dr Kristin Neff, had a book on Self Compassion published in April.
Another good self compassion book is
New 30 day Project where I practice what I preach (Update: Now finished and I’m on to a new 30 Day Project.)
My next personal 30 day project is going to be 30 days of self-compassion. You can see what I’m up to on my blog Facebook page. You can also participate if you want.
My life is in good shape so the emotions I need to have self-compassion about are likely to be minor and might seem a bit silly to be mentioning, but I still expect the project to have an effect in helping smooth out anxiety spikes and helping me choose skillful responses. I’m going to use the month to practice the skill of self-compassion and see what happens. Do join if you feel interested/curious about what might happen if you start to notice and change your self-critical responses.