You have probably thought a lot about the idea of self-esteem. Self-esteem is how good you feel about yourself. Since the 1970s, there has been a lot of work on self-esteem. We know that people who feel good about themselves are socially successful. They project a beautiful image to the world. They act with confidence.
But, have you heard about self-compassion?
Self-compassion is the extent to which you treat yourself kindly. That is different from just feeling good about yourself. You can have a lot of self-confidence and a strong feeling of your own importance and still be hard on yourself when things go wrong.
Do you have self-compassion?
When you make a mistake, what is your first reaction? Do you kick yourself repeatedly over the error? Do you spend time worrying about all the ways you could have handled it differently? Are you anxious about how your mistake will be seen by others?
Self-compassion is the ability to recognize that you are fallible. You will make mistakes. The key to self-compassion is to realize that those mistakes are a result of your actions in a situation and not a sign of a character flaw.
Obviously, it is useful to feel a little remorse when you make a mistake. It can be helpful to review the problem to make sure you don’t make the mistake again.
But, it is also valuable to give yourself the benefit of the doubt. It is important to give yourself the same freedom to err that you give to the people around you. After all, a little failure can be a good thing. You can only move forward in life when you try new things, and you cannot expect to try new things without making a few mistakes.
This self-compassion can help you in all phases of your life. Instead of obsessing over things that you should not have said in social interactions, allow yourself to move on from a discussion that didn’t go well or a fight with a friend. In relationships, recognize that when something does not go the way you wanted it to, that is not a sign that you are the problem. And in your work life, realize that failure is common. Indeed, one reason why Silicon Valley has been the seat of so many new and vibrant companies is because the entrepreneurs there are given the freedom to fail and to learn from their mistakes.
Next time you make a mistake, try to treat yourself like you would treat others. Give yourself some understanding. You will find that this self-compassion helps you project a more beautiful self to the rest of the world.
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