Take Care of Yourself – Self-Compassion Increases Your Well-Being

February 3, 2020
Self-compassion promotes healthy lifestyles and favors a more positive psychological state.

There are many different ways to interpret the concept of self-compassion. In psychology, it means the capacity to be less critical and more forgiving with yourself, which allows you to have a more realistic perspective of your situation.

Self-compassion means treating yourself with empathy and being kind to yourself without criticizing or judging your mistakes. This helps you maintain your motivation without worrying too much about success or failure in everything you do or don’t do.

Thus, it represents an ability within the scope of emotional intelligence that’s both reflexive and nurturing. It allows you to open up a space to get to know yourself, care for yourself, and care about everything that happens to you. Through it, you turn our gaze inward.

It’s not always possible to get what you want and meet the expectations that you’ve set out for yourself. So consequently, if you don’t accept your reality, you may suffer from stress, frustration, and self-criticism.

On the other hand, if you accept that reality as simply a part of being human, then you experience positive emotions such as compassion, which helps you get through every situation.

A woman smiling at a butterfly on the window.

The lack of compassion with yourself

If you don’t have compassion with yourself, you might experience the following:

  • Rage and difficulty connecting with yourself due to your isolation.
  • Irresponsibility, meaning you blame others for your own suffering. When you have a black and white vision of life, it’s difficult to accept that you have the ability to change. That change depends on you.
  • Contempt is the feeling of inability and vulnerability that goes hand-in-hand with language and non-verbal expressions to express it.
  • Despair makes it difficult to enjoy the moment and feel certain that better things are yet to come.
  • Aimlessness happens when you feel lost and can’t find any meaning in life.

When there’s an absence of self-compassion, it makes it hard to remember that it’s possible to take away something good from every experience, and know that it’ll help you in the future when you go through something similar.

Compassion and self-compassion

Compassion comes from the perception of someone else’s suffering. It comes from an open attitude, without judging the experience. In addition to simply perceiving the suffering, it’s about having the initiative to relieve that pain.

Compassion is the ability to offer kindness to those who suffer and lending your hand to whoever needs it, even if it means involving yourself in their mistakes and weaknesses.

Self-compassion is having the same attitude of help and graciousness but directed toward yourself. Here are some specific concepts to help you understand it better:

  • Kindness, which is an ability to be understanding and empathetic with yourself when you feel inadequate, incompetent, or non-assertive.
  • Humanity. This means avoiding isolation when you’re suffering by recognizing that there are many other people in the same situation. It means understanding that mistakes, imperfection, and pain are part of the human experience.
  • Attention. This is the ability to openly observe your experiences objectively, without judging. It means keeping a balanced perspective of your emotions, without denying or repressing the pain or identifying yourself only with it.
  • Self-compassion is strongly related to resilience, which is the ability to get over trauma and come out stronger. This boosts your ability to calm down, recognize your mistakes, and learn from them.

Self-compassion is also associated with emotional well-being, optimism, life satisfaction, autonomy, and wisdom, and contributes to the decline of anxiety, stress, and shame.

The benefits of self-compassion

When you have very high expectations and direct your criticism inward, the discomfort is greater if things don’t go the way you wanted. This is because the perfectionism you impose on yourself augments feelings of frustration and inability.

Through self-compassion, you can find a balance in how you treat yourself when things don’t go your way. You can do this by listening to yourself and leaving aside feelings of guilt and judgment.

Self-compassion helps promote self-respect and self-empathy by helping you learn to care for yourself instead of criticizing when you suffer or feel that you failed.

A woman standing in a field with her eyes closed.

People with high levels of self-compassion show a greater perspective of their problems and feel less isolated. They can also experience a decrease in their levels of anxiety and an increase in the awareness of their problems.

Self-compassions allows you to handle negative thoughts better with the development of emotional regulation. Positive emotions increase and help establish feelings of social connection and life satisfaction.

This way, it’s possible to maintain a clear perspective and more cognitive flexibility, as well as a higher ability to adapt to changes.