Self Compassion

Just saving here a couple of positive things I’ve read this week that have cheered me up.

Firstly there was this post on Reddit

I don’t know what it was that made everything finally click. I don’t know what is happening in my brain now that wasn’t happening then. 

I think I just finally realised that it’s down to me. ….

There’s a quote I found …which I really like: 

No matter how far from the truth we are led by histrionics and lies, the truly, objectively beautiful remains untainted.” 

I worked really hard to see it everywhere. Flowers, the moon, my cat, my mum, strawberries, anything at all. I just reminded myself that to me, these things will always be beautiful, and my depression couldn’t stop that. Eventually it was less hard work to find beautiful things. I saw them everywhere, and I still do.

Another is from Oscar Wilde:

The only reason for a useless thing is that one admires it intensely. All art is quite useless.” 

When I first discovered that quote I believed myself to be useless. This quote made me smile. Everything here is useless really. The only point is to love things and sometimes to let them love you.

During my treatment I found that sitting by the beach and watching the waves put my whole situation in perspective.

We are all so small and insignificant compared to nature. We are here for such a short time. It is amazing we even exist. Just be thankful and make the best of it.

The other thing I read this week which has been on my mind is this post from Eric Barker:

We don’t need more self-esteem. We need more self-compassion.

…So What’s Wrong With Self-Esteem?

First and foremost, it’s contingent. ….If you don’t feel like a success, you feel like a loser. Ironic that self-esteem is only helpful when you don’t really need it, right?…

Kristin Neff is a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of Self-Compassion:

The problem with self-esteem is it tends to be comparative in nature. Basically, if I have high self-esteem I have to feel special and above average. That basic need to be better than others is based on a logical impossibility. There’s no way everybody can be above average at the same time. We’re losing before we’re even out of the gate...

Research shows self-esteem [is] just a side effect of success. So artificially boosting it doesn’t work…

In one influential review of the self-esteem literature, it was concluded that high self-esteem actually did not improve academic achievement or job performance or leadership skills or prevent children from smoking, drinking, taking drugs, and engaging in early sex. If anything, high self-esteem appears to be the consequence rather than the cause of healthy behaviors...

This emphasis on high self-esteem at all costs has also led to a worrying trend toward increasing narcissism. Twenge and colleagues examined the scores of more than fifteen thousand college students who took the Narcissistic Personality Inventory between 1987 and 2006. During the twenty-year period, scores went through the roof, with 65 percent of modern-day students scoring higher in narcissism than previous generations.

Stop lying to yourself that you’re so awesome. Instead, focus on forgiving yourself when you’re not…..

Self-compassion is not about a judgment or evaluation of self-worth; it’s not about deciding whether or not we’re a good or bad person; it’s just about treating oneself kindly. Treating oneself like one would treat a good friend, with warmth and care and understanding. When self-esteem deserts us, which is when we fail and we make a mistake, self-compassion steps in. Self-compassion recognizes that it’s natural and normal to fail and to make mistakes, and that we’re worthy of kindness even though we’ve done something we regret or didn’t perform as well as we wanted to.…..

The bottom line is that according to the science, self-compassion appears to offer the same advantages as high self-esteem, with no discernible downsides.

…self-compassion was clearly associated with steadier and more constant feelings of self-worth than self-esteem. We also found that self-compassion was less likely than self-esteem to be contingent on particular outcomes like social approval, competing successfully, or feeling attractive. When our sense of self-worth stems from being a human being intrinsically worthy of respect—rather than being contingent on obtaining certain ideals—our sense of self-worth is much less easily shaken.

… being compassionate toward others and being self-compassionate aren’t linked:

When a friend fails, you don’t feel threatened. You can easily access a part of your physiology: the care-giving system. As mammals we all have part of ourselves that is devoted to care-giving for a friend in need. But when I’m threatened my natural response is fight, flight or feed. Now, of course, that system developed in order to protect our bodily self, but the problem is that when we fail, our self-concept gets threatened and our body reacts exactly the same way. When we feel threatened we can’t access the care-giving system. Our most immediate and strongest reaction is this fight or flight response. We fight the problem — which is ourselves. We attack ourselves, we judge ourselves, or we feel really isolated. In a way, I think that’s the reason it’s so much easier to be kind to others than ourselves, because we aren’t threatened by others’ problems. We are being hard on ourselves and we’re tapping into the reptilian brain as opposed to the more mature care-giving area. We know the amygdala gets triggered when we feel rejected or threatened or we fail.

Want to be more self-compassionate? 
Talk to yourself the way you would talk to a friend who was having problems. 

One easy way to be self-compassionate is just ask yourself, “What if I had a very close friend who was experiencing the exact same thing that I am experiencing now?” The idea is you use that same quality of warmth, support, encouragement, tenderness, understanding with yourself that you more typically show to other people.

Sound silly? Tell that to the Navy SEALs. Positive self-talk is one of the methods that showed the best results in helping them get through their incredibly difficult training.

Talking to yourself out loud can make you smarter, improve your memory, help you focus and even increase athletic performance.

Imagine someone who loves you saying the kind words instead. Research shows this delivers serious results.

Practitioners first instruct patients to generate an image of a safe place to help counter any fears that may arise. They are then instructed to create an ideal image of a caring and compassionate figure… The training resulted in significant reductions in depression, self-attacking, feelings of inferiority, and shame.

You forgive others all the time. You need to start forgiving yourself more often.