Self-Compassion: Compassion Is A Two-way Street
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.” -William Shakespeare
The human condition is something that has been written about many times over. Major religions have definitive beliefs about it. Even Shakespeare tried to sum it up with his “All the world’s a stage” monologue.
When it comes to compassion, as humans we instinctively apply it to our fellow man when we observe suffering. It’s a natural reaction to want to help others who are in pain. But, so often we overlook the need for compassion when applying it to ourselves.
We all deal with difficulties in our lives. When you experience failure or feelings of inadequacy, do you find yourself self-criticizing or telling yourself to simply ignore the feelings hoping that they will just go away?
Self-compassion is about extending compassion to yourself whenever you experience failure, inadequacy, or general suffering. It is similar to the notion of “unconditional positive regard”, a concept developed by psychologist Carl Rogers.
Within the context of client-centered therapy, unconditional positive regard is about accepting and supporting a person regardless of what they say or do. With self-compassion, this unconditional positive regard is applied to your own experiences and actions.
Research consistently shows there is a positive correlation between self-compassion and psychological well-being. People with self-compassion have greater life satisfaction. They tend to have social connectedness, emotional intelligence and, in general, are happy. Self-compassion has also been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, shame, and fear of failure.
Kristin Neff, an associate professor at the University of Texas who is credited with conducting early academic studies into self-compassion, used her research to develop the Self-compassion Scales. There are two measurements for Self-Compassion:
Self-Compassion Scale (SCS)(http://self-compassion.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Self_Compassion_Scale_for_researchers.pdf), and
Self-Compassion Scale-Short Form (SCS-SF)(http://self-compassion.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/ShortSCS.pdf).
These scales were developed for researchers doing studies on self-compassion.
Dr. Neff defined self-compassion as being made up of three primary components: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.
- Self-kindness is about accepting our own flaws and weaknesses and avoiding self-criticism and judgement. The goal is to find greater emotional equanimity.
- Common humanity is about avoiding isolation. When you accept that all humans suffer, including ourselves, we can avoid feelings of isolation and that we are the only ones who make mistakes.
- Mindfulness is about not suppressing or denying feelings, or over-exaggerating them due to the negative emotions we feel.
If you have some time and want to work on developing your own self-compassion please check out the Self-compassion guided meditation and exercises developed by Dr. Neff at the following link:
Susan Baker is a Nationally-certified, Licensed Professional Counselor in Texas. She is the owner of Motivations Counseling, located in Sugar Land, Texas. She counsels adults, specializing in self-esteem, self-worth, life transitions, and relationship issues.
For more information, or to schedule a free 10-minute consultation with Susan, you can reach her at (281) 858–3001.
For all other inquiries, she can be reached at:
14090 Southwest Fwy, Ste. 300
Sugar Land, TX 77478