In my previous post, I said that self-compassion is offering yourself the same kindness you would offer to a dear friend. When I first heard about this topic I was extremely skeptical. I was skeptical because I thought it would make us too “soft” and unable to reach new goals. My thinking was that if we are always gentle and accepting with ourselves, we will get stuck and always say “that’s ok” to just settling in life.
The truth is, research shows that self-compassion can actually increase motivation. The more compassionate we are with ourselves, the more motivated we are. How does this make any sense? I don’t know about you but growing up I thought I was so noble when I was self-critical. I thought it would help me out in school, in sports, and in relationships by criticizing parts of myself I did not like. Self-compassion frees us up from thinking that as long as we complete the “x” factor in our lives, only then we are enough. “As long as I make a lot of money I am enough.” “As long as I make the “a” team I am enough.” “As long as I lose weight I am enough.” That thinking sets us up for failure because there is always the next “x.” We can shift our thinking by knowing that we are enough FIRST. We are worthy of love. We are worthy of proper treatment. If we know this truth of our worthiness we can live into it. It helps us take more risks and frees us up from getting stuck in circles of self-criticism.
In one study by Breines and Chen, they did 4 experiments to see if self-compassion motivates people to improve personal weaknesses, moral transgressions, and test performances. They found that an accepting position as our starting point does increase motivation to improve. When we come to accept the “x” that is lacking, we are freer to improve. Go figure!
Self-compassion, then, is necessary if we decide to take a journey to know ourselves more deeply. It’s not how much we know about ourselves, it’s how much compassion and grace we carry with us on the journey. And better yet, as we offer ourselves more compassion, research shows that we are also less anxious to connect more deeply with others. Having compassion for ourselves increases the empathy we hold for others.
If you’d like to know more about digging deeper to know yourself and others more deeply, check out my course!