Self-Compassion, do you or don't you?

Mistakes, we've all made them at some point, and unfortunately most of the time we judge ourselves the harshest for making them. Someone asked me recently what the definition of self-compassion was and I honestly had never really thought about what self-compassion meant to me. So I took to finding out.

Now a few definitions pretty much summed up that self-compassion involved treating yourself with care and concern when considering personal inadequacies, mistakes, failures, rejection experienced or any painful life experiences had. Another thing I discovered was that self-compassion was deemed an important predictor of positive well-being and resilience (Bernard & Curry, 2011). Also that greater levels of self-compassion had been linked to lower levels of depression and anxiety (Bernard & Curry, 2011). Ok, so self-compassion sounds pretty important right and the majority of us are pretty good at showing compassion to our friends, family, kids, neighbours, and co-workers so why is it so hard to show ourselves self-compassion??? Well, there's a good chance that our belief system is responsible for that.

Our beliefs regarding our own self-worth determine whether we show ourselves any self-compassion. If we have developed false beliefs through life there's a good chance that we won't value ourselves enough to feel worthy of self-compassion. After a bit more digging I found that Positive Psychology (2020) described self-compassion as consisting of 3 parts, and even went on to identify what each parts' opposite behaviour would be.

There's self-kindness vs self-judgment, common humanity vs isolation, and mindfulness vs over-identification. Yep, for those of us who have not been partaking in self-compassion, we can pretty much admit that we have been doing those opposites listed (guilty much?). But don't fret, there is hope, because with knowledge there's power and in this case, the power is having the choice to make changes regarding our self-compassion.

Additionally, that change doesn't have to be anything drastic, it can be something small to start with. Small manageable changes are more likely to work than trying to implement large unrealistic changes straight away. So now that you have an idea of what self-compassion is and what to look out for in regards to its opposite behaviours I highly encourage you to have a good think about whether you're allowing yourself any self-compassion and to make the changes necessary to allow that process to occur.


Barnard, L., & Curry, J. (2012). Self-compassion: Conceptualizations, correlates, & interventions. Review of General Psychology, 15, 289-303.


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