The Surprising Secret to Wellness – Be Kind to Yourself
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Self-compassion does not make us spoiled or weak, but rather is a learned coping strategy that research shows can decrease anxiety and enhance resilience and recovery from the effects of stress. It also does not require us to deny and suppress negative aspects of our experience.
In fact, self-compassion is mindfulness – or a balanced holding in consciousness of all facets of our experience, without overreacting to them. The essence of self-compassion is to acknowledge our own emotional suffering and then deliberately comfort ourselves by generating feelings of warmth, softness, and care towards ourselves and, by association, all living beings who are suffering.
Self-compassion is also associated with higher and more consistent levels of well-being than self-esteem. When self-evaluations are not dependent on constant proof of achievement, we feel more relaxed and better about our lives. Self-compassion is also associated with more curiosity and exploration.
When we don’t beat ourselves up for failure, we are freer to try new things and make mistakes as part of the normal pattern of learning and growth. More self-compassionate people are also more willing to take responsibility for their contribution to situations that don’t turn out as planned. When making a mistake is not the end of the world, we are freer to confront our mistakes, learn new skills, and make amends, rather than hide away in shame.
In summary, self-compassion appears to have many benefits. When we treat ourselves kindly, we learn to soften and open ourselves to all kinds of experiences, including our own emotions. We may also become more accepting of others when we focus on our common humanity.