The Importance of Self-Compassion
The ability to be kind to ourselves is fundamentally important to our sense of self-esteem and well-being. In therapy this sort of kindness is now commonly referred to as self-compassion, a concept drawn from Buddhism.
As RuPaul says in every one of his shows: ‘If you can't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?’.
To have a low opinion of yourself not only means you will be conflicted within yourself, but that you won’t feel deserving of the love of others. So it will affect your ability to have satisfactory relationships. It will make you feel over-anxious about what others think of you and may mean you allow them to treat you without respect.
Feeling bad about yourself may also make you feel awkward in social situations and therefore make others feel awkward as well. Hence you will establish a vicous circle where the fact that others disrespect you or feel uncomfortable in your company justifies and reinforces you dislike of yourself.
Offering yourself compassion is a way of breaking this cycle and The Self-Compassion Wheel above provides some ways in which you can start to do this.
Learning to develop a self-compassionate attitude takes time. It’s easier to say ‘I’m not meant to be perfect, I’m human’ than it is to really believe it. But learning to talk to yourself in a more compassionate way and to forgive yourself for what you regard as faults will begin to break the habit of negative thinking.
Tell yourself ‘if I were to take a compassionate point of view, what would I be saying to myself’. You’re not committing to that view-point yet, because that would be too far outside your comfort zone, but you are at least acknowledging the possibility of that alternative view-point.
As we’ve said elsewhere on this site, consider what you would say to a good friend who was experiencing similar thoughts and feelings. It would probably be much kinder than the sorts of things you are saying to yourself now.