Having Compassion for Yourself - Why Is It Important?
Having compassion for yourself doesn't make you weaker; on the contrary, it strengthens you. Because if you learn to treat yourself with kindness, if you forgive yourself when you need it and learn to speak with affection, you will be able to better deal with the difficulties and complexities of life.
Having compassion for yourself is far from selfish . Each of us is obliged to practice that self-care that allows, for example, to forgive past and present mistakes, give us encouragement in difficult times or treat ourselves with the respect we deserve. Since no one comes to this world with this factory competition it is important to learn how to cultivate it.
Boccaccio said in the Decameron that nothing makes us more human than feeling compassion for our fellow men. Somehow, both culturally and socially, we have been instilled with the idea that this dimension always goes from the inside out. It is true that it is necessary to feel sorry for those who suffer and that experiencing this feeling makes us more noble. However, there is an equally important detail.
Compassion must also project towards oneself. Doing so is healthy, cathartic, and even necessary. Some define it as a kind of "healthy narcissism", but whatever it is, this psychological area goes far beyond self- love because it gives it support, momentum and meaning. Let's dive a little deeper into this topic.
Having compassion for oneself, the key to psychological well-being
It is one thing to love yourself and another to love yourself well. Not all one's own loves are healthy, because excessive egos and self-concepts abound that position themselves in a harmful narcissism in which there is only one and no one else. Likewise, we are not mistaken if we say that what is most appreciated on a daily basis are people who treat themselves without the necessary respect and affection.
Going around the world with frayed self-esteem gives way to the shadows of depression and other psychological problems. On the other hand, men and women unable to control negative , accusing, and damaging self-talk are always drifting off into mental suffering. They miss out on opportunities, fall into unhappy relationships, and rarely achieve personal fulfillment.
Having compassion for yourself is not an act of weakness. Sometimes, it is difficult for us to give way to this feeling because we associate compassion with pity , with that feeling that is often empty, passive and comprised between sadness and tenderness towards something or someone.
We have distorted this dimension until we feel some discomfort when we feel it for ourselves. It is therefore necessary to reformulate it and give it the significance it deserves.
Why should we develop a little more compassion for ourselves?
Kristin Neff defined the term self-compassion and described its usefulness for psychological well-being. His research work on this construct equates it to the practice of mindfulness and whose benefits for mental health are widely supported by science.
Having compassion for oneself is, above all, accepting the imperfection of the human being , it is assuming that we are fallible, that we make mistakes and knowing how to respond to them with kindness and affection. The need to develop this well-being competence is multiple:
- Duke University (United States) showed something interesting in a study : people who apply self-compassion in their day to day have good emotional intelligence and fuller life satisfaction.
- On the other hand, it has also been shown that self-compassion is correlated with a lower incidence of depression and anxiety . The latter is a relevant fact that is worth contemplating.
- Those people capable of being respectful and affectionate with themselves in difficult moments shape an internal dialogue that does not judge, that does not criticize and that allows us to accept ourselves as we are.
- Likewise, it is also interesting to note that people who practice self-compassion do not fall into the labyrinths of excessive worry , into negative musings that reduce psychological well-being. (Krieger, Altenstein, Baettig, Doerig and Holtforth, 2013).
Components of self-compassion
The literature and research on self-compassion has grown exponentially in recent years. We already know that empowering patients with depression in self-compassion would improve their progress and progressive recovery .
Studies such as the one carried out at the University of Zurich, for example, speak of the usefulness of including it in cognitive-behavioral therapy. It is interesting, in turn, to keep in mind those elements that give shape and body to the exercise of self-compassion. They are as follows:
- Being able to speak kindly to each other.
- Judge us positively.
- Be aware that human beings are not perfect or invulnerable.
- Know with ourselves and our needs.
- Understand that suffering, error or loss are part of life.
- Having compassion for oneself implies knowing how to appreciate and love ourselves as we deserve.
- Mindfulness or mindfulness in turn allows us to develop this dimension more effectively.
Having compassion for oneself keeps us from depending on others
Having compassion for oneself is not compassionate or perceiving ourselves as weak or fragile. It is appreciating ourselves in an authentic way because we understand how much we are worth and how much we deserve. In turn, it means being tolerant of our mistakes and embracing our internal wounds to give us encouragement and keep moving forward.
There is also an equally interesting detail that we must consider. Self-compassion increases independence to validate emotions, needs, and self-esteem. When we know what we deserve, we stop being absolutely dependent on the attention of others and although we appreciate it, we are no longer so subordinate to our environment.
To conclude, giving ourselves permission to be imperfect and to continue loving ourselves in every situation and circumstance is a health exercise worth practicing. Today is a good day to start this path.