Photo created by Thefemalewarhol
Pretty much every kind of mental health problem can be associated with low self-esteem, depression, lack of motivation and for most of us we know low self-esteem is ‘bad.’ But did you know that high self-esteem can be a problem as well?
Self-esteem means judging or evaluating yourself positively. It attributes to our self-worth, perceived value, or how much we like ourselves. You believe you are a good person, and you identify with your strengths. However, research has shown that for most of us, believing we are good is so closely related to believing we are better than other people. In modern western culture is not ok to be average, we have to feel above average in order to feel good about ourselves. We adhere towards a stand-out mentality, with hyperfocus on how much we are special and different than everyone else.
This is the main problem with being overly focused on self-esteem. If I need to believe that I am better than other people in order to have high self-esteem, it can make me more likely to criticize others, and more fearful of people seeing my weaknesses. I can become too competitive and fragile when receiving negative feedback. We tend to get angry and aggressive towards anyone who has said or done anything that potentially makes us feel bad about ourselves. Narcissistic and self-absorbed behavior is on a high rise as the new normal. And still even with so much high self-esteem, we may feel it is often dependant on our latest success or failure, meaning self-esteem fluctuates depending on our ever-changing circumstances.
On the other hand, when you have self-compassion you don’t care if you are better, worse, or the same s anyone else. Self-compassion means relating to yourself with a kind and forgiving attitude no matter what is happening. Self-compassion isn’t dependent on external circumstances, it’s always available.
When we relate to ourselves with self-compassion, there's no need to put other people down. We aren’t afraid of the occasional failures, or even falling flat on our face because we can see them as valuable learning instead of threats to our self-worth. Researchers have found that self-compassion actually improves our motivation to succeed because we aren't so worried about making mistakes. We don’t need to be perfect, special, different, or stand-out in order to be lovable.
GENTLE & HAPPY BLESSINGS TO YOUR SPRING EQUINOX, FULL MOON IN LIBRA, AND ARIES SEASON!!!
Sup Sup beautiful beings! Welcome back! As you may know, the next 14 posts I’ll be sharing some helpful and useful information around cultivating and deepening an authentic relationship with your self-compassion.
So what is self-compassion? Well, it’s just what it sounds like. It means being compassionate towards yourself. Now before you roll your eyes and scroll on allow me to go on, that’s just the simplest answer. It means honoring yourself and appreciating when life is going alright, as well as being gentle, kind and forgiving to yourself when life is hard. So much of our discomfort comes from constantly criticizing ourselves and other people. Perhaps we’ve felt depressed and anxious all our lives, maybe you can pinpoint to some specific terrible thing that happened to us. Or maybe we might believe that life should be different than it is, or that we won't be lovable until we get rid of whatever we think is wrong with us. While this may be true, it’s possible to feel loved, accepted, and appreciated for being exactly who we are. We can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are fundamentally OK - and even more! Innately we have a wise voice that knows we are fascinating and unique human beings. We can learn to hear that voice, more importantly, believe it. When life is going well self-compassion gives us permission to relish it without feeling guilty. We know that we deserve good things in life - not because we are better than other people, but because we are human beings. Compassion isn't something we have to earn. It comes from the recognition that everyone is born with basic human worth.
Perhaps, you need more education around what “basic human worth” means if so check out my first post ‘Self Compassion is a Skill’ for more information and resources around anti-racism, dismantling white supremacy, and intersectional bias.
Self-compassion is exceptionally important when handling any challenges in our life. When we really struggling - feeling afraid, depressed, angry, or lonely - what we need most are understanding and love. The trouble is that we can’t always rely on other people to be there when we need them. Even if we have a fantastic support system, many of us find it difficult to open ourselves up to love from others.
Yet, if we can establish a source of deep understanding and compassion within ourselves, it is always there when we need it. It solidifies the foundation for greater strength, resilience, and peace of mind. And fortunately, this is possible for anyone who is willing to practice.
Homework (if you feel); journal or chat with a friend 1. When life is going well… 2. When life feels hard… write out 3 examples of what your self-critical attitude sounds like when thinking about 1. (ex. People are going to discover I’m a phony.) Now do this again but this time with a self-compassionate attitude (ex. If people really understood me, they’d like me.) Now go on to 2. Again writing 3 examples one with self-critical ‘tude (ex. If I wasn’t so stupid, I wouldn’t have to deal with this.) and now with a self-compassionate ‘tude (ex. Every human being experiences suffering, no matter how many virtues they have.)
Check back for next post ‘Self-Compassion. Self-Esteem. There’s a Difference.’