Thanks to the blog Daily Good, I regularly find topics to write on that interest me and will likely be of interest to others. Today’s is self-compassion. New York Times writer Tara Parker-Pope summarizes the big ideas in a book coming out in April called Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind, by Dr. Kristin Neff.
What is self-compassion? According to Dr. Neff, it is reacting to your own struggles and insecurities the same way you would react if you saw someone else struggling. It involves three components: “being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail or feel inadequate, … recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared, human experience, … and taking a balanced approach to negative emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed or exaggerated.” She says that self-compassion is not self-pity, a condition in which we fail to recognize that we are not alone and that our feelings are shared by everyone, nor is it self-indulgence, which demonstrates lack of concern for our own health and well-being. Also, self-compassion is not the same thing as self-esteem, which in the West is often based on our need to stand out from the crowd, to be better than others.
Dr. Neff’s website offers a self-compassion test, which embeds the three components into its twenty-six questions, and which she uses with her research subjects. Take it and see your instant results. Conclusions from her research are that self-compassion is “strongly associated with “happiness and optimism…,” and that it is “strongly related to reflective wisdom, defined as “the ability to see reality as it is and to develop self-awareness and insight.” It is also associated with a number of other positive characteristics, which you can read more about.
I put myself on a diet yesterday after reading my friend Jackie’s “travel and lose weight” blog posting. To anyone who has tried to lose weight, it makes sense that self-compassion must be incorporated into dieters’ thinking and this is what other research confirms. Simply stated, we must quickly forgive our triple scoop transgressions and get right back on the path to sensible eating.