Living with Chronic Pain

The Importance of Self-Compassion


What is Self-Compassion?

Self-compassion is the act of treating oneself with empathy and kindness. People who show self-compassion are able to notice when they are struggling, understand that this is a shared human experience, and show grace to themselves. Many people battle with this, or believe it is a sign of narcissism or weakness. Contrary to belief, self-compassion actually requires a considerable amount of inner strength. It also helps with developing coping strategies that build resilience. Self-compassion consists of three elements: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.

The importance of self-compassion

Being critical of oneself can increase weakness and negativity. However, self-compassion is significant in developing positive behaviors, emotions, and thought patterns. It creates resilience and strength. Self-compassion can lower stress, increase productivity, enhance happiness, heighten reflective and affective wisdom, create personal initiative, and amplify curiosity.

Decreased stress

Self-criticism can activate the sympathetic nervous system, which increases stress hormones. This can be detrimental to health and wellbeing. However, self-compassion creates a greater sense of wellbeing due to the activation of the biological nurturance and soothing system in the brain.

Increased productivity

Failure and disappointment have a negative impact on thought patterns. Self-compassion allows a person to experience failure as a learning opportunity. This can improve performance and productivity.

Enhanced happiness

Happiness and optimism are side effects of practicing self-compassion. This is due to the balance that accompanies self-compassion. Happy people are less likely to ruminate on negative events and more likely to think about the future in a positive light.

Heightened reflective and affective wisdom

Self-compassion has shown to be highly related to reflective wisdom, which includes feelings of sympathy and compassion for others. Additionally, it is moderately related to affective wisdom, which is the ability to perceive events from multiple perspectives and gain insight. This is because of the emotional safety that self-compassion provides to allow a person to clearly see themselves as they are.

Expanded personal initiative

Personal initiative includes the ability to make the changes that are required to lead a fulfilling life. Self-compassion positively impacts personal initiative by creating the ability to identify necessary and positive changes in life.

Amplified curiosity and exploration

Self-compassion leads to a highly-developed sense of curiosity. This produces less fear of failure, allowing individuals to pursue challenges without fear.

Additional sources: Wiley Online Library, Self-Compassion and Psychology Today

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