Self-Compassion: The Art of Loving Oneself


May 29, 2023

Famous author Oscar Wilde once said, “”To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” It is common in this current era for people to promote self-love. But what is self-love? And how many people actually love themselves? And what can we do to increase self-love? Loving yourself can have many different forms and definitions. For the purpose of this article, self-love is defined as having self-compassion towards oneself.

In simple terms, self-compassion is the act of being kinder to yourself even through difficult situations, just as you would be to others in the same situation. According to Dr.Kristin Neff, self-compassion contains three elements (Neff, 2020). The first component of self-compassion was self-kindness vs. self-judgment. A person who exhibits the attribute of self-compassion would be empathetic and understanding towards themselves rather than harsh, critical, and judgmental of themselves in situations that make them feel inadequate and during times of hardship. The second element of self-compassion is common humanity vs. isolation.This element indicates that someone with self-compassion has the ability to recognise that frustrations, suffering, failure, and inadequacy are part of the experience of all humans. Therefore, instead of the sense of isolation and the false belief that one is alone in their suffering in the world, a person with self-compassion would understand that he or she is not alone and is not the only one in the world who suffers or makes mistakes (Neff, 2020).
Mindfulness vs over-identification is the third element of self-compassion. A person who possesses the self-compassion attribute treats their emotions in a balanced and mindful manner, not repressing or amplifying them. Instead, they consciously examine their emotions and unhelpful thoughts while being open and non-judgmental towards them, without denying or suppressing their sentiments (Neff, 2020).

Hence, if a person possessed the trait of self-compassion, they would notice that they are less judgmental, kind and empathetic towards themselves no matter how hard the situation is. Secondly, if a person possessed the trait of self-compassion, they would be able to recognize that hardship and failure is part of life for everyone, and that they are not alone in their suffering. Finally, a person who possessed the trait would approach their emotions and thoughts mindfully, in a balanced manner and would not over-identify with their emotions by over-exaggerating or suppressing how they feel. Thus, if a person possesses these traits, it could be said that they have the trait of self-compassion.

As mentioned above, self-compassion and self-love are essential traits that everyone should have, but why is it so necessary to have these traits? Various studies on the trait of self-compassion indicated that self-compassion was highly correlated with the mental well-being of a person (Neff, 2020). As such, high levels of self-compassion were associated with feelings such as optimism, connectedness, curiosity, and happiness. Furthermore, it was also associated with a decrease in anxiety,depressive symptoms, and fear of failure. Self-compassion is therefore one of the most crucial attributes to cultivate in a person since it adds to that person’s well-being, which is necessary for an individual’s ability to operate.

According to research, self-compassion is linked to taking the initiative to make changes in one’s life. As a result, practicing self-compassion may help someone learn from their errors, change their bad habits, and be prepared to deal with any challenges life throws their way. Thus, self-compassion is a crucial quality that may improve a person’s relationships with others and with themselves (Neff, 2009). Similarly, it was shown that self-compassion was positively correlated with learning mastery in a research on self-compassion in educational situations. Therefore, self-compassionate people are more likely to be driven to study and develop for their own sake rather than that of others or to win others’ praise. Therefore, having self-compassion as an individual is vital in this era of social media and influence because someone with self-compassion is more likely to concentrate on learning and growing for their own purposes rather than being affected by others (Neff, 2009).

Additionally, it was revealed that the feeling of self-compassion was more consistent in terms of one’s sense of worth through time when compared to other personality factors like self-esteem. The likelihood of social comparison, public self-consciousness, self-rumination, and narrow-mindedness were also lower in people who had self-compassion. Therefore, possessing a quality like self-compassion is crucial for mental welfare in the social media and “doom scrolling” culture of today (Neff, 2009).Finally, it was discovered that self-compassion is linked to a person’s maturity. In contrast to individuals who lacked self-compassion, those who possessed it were more likely to be emotionally sensitive and intelligent. Since emotional maturity means being non-judgmental, forgiving, and loving not just to others but also to oneself, it is essential for our relationships with others. As emotional intelligence is essential for developing our interpersonal and intrapersonal connections, having self-compassion is a vital trait for any individual (Neff, 2009)

Now that the importance of self-compassion has been covered. The next important question to answer is how can the trait of self-compassion be developed in an individual. First off, understanding how to comfort oneself is one of the ways a person might begin to cultivate self-compassion. As a result, it is imperative for the person to prioritize their mental health if they are feeling emotionally overburdened or worried. This means that individuals might take part in activities like eating something nourishing and delicious, going for a stroll, massaging themselves, watching something they enjoy, or numerous more unique ways to soothe themselves. Second, one of the most important aspects of self-compassion is mindfulness. As a result, in order to nurture self-compassion, a person can practice mindfulness-enhancing activities like exercise and meditation. Thirdly, by using positive affirmations, keeping a gratitude journal, and practicing self-gratitude, a person may gradually replace their critical self-talk with a more compassionate one.

Finally, attending therapy and working with a therapist may help a person learn how to be more compassionate with themselves and improve their mental health. Relationary, offers psychological counseling services to individuals at an affordable cost to everyone. Attending therapy sessions with Relationary’s psychotherapists, trainers, and counselors might therefore be a good place to start if you want to develop more self-compassion and enhance your mental health.

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