Traditionally, the term “self-compassion” comes with a certain shade of condescension or even vulnerability, which positions it as an unwanted attitude in the face of adversity or setback.
However, in recent years a new stream of thought has emerged that has saved self-compassion as a lucky and desirable attribute, stripping it of its negative connotation.
Self-compassion is currently understood as a concept related to emotional intelligence; through which a privileged position is assumed on the value judgments that each of us constructs in relation to the way we think, feel and act.
In this article, we will discuss in detail the concept of self-compassion and the benefits (in general) that can be deduced from their practice in everyday life.
Have compassion for yourself: self-compassion
Self-compassion is a complex concept that has aroused interest in the field of psychology for decades., When Jon Kabat-Zinn adapted mindfulness to the relief of patients with chronic pain. Soon after, self-compassion was incorporated into this existential philosophy and became a subject of scientific study, especially from the early years of the present century.
Great self-compassion can be described, in layman’s terms, as the decision to have self-compassion. In this sense, the literature on this topic has extracted three key factors: kindness, fallibility and mindfulness. We then proceed to examine them in detail.
The society we live in tends to positively value being kind to others.. This includes a series of social norms of courtesy or education, with which we act in a prosocial manner when interacting with others, encouraging us to lend our help to those who may be going through difficult times. This attitude is rewarded in the form of recognition or admiration and is seen as an appropriate example of what needs to be done (for children and adults).
- We recommend that you read: “The 5 major personality traits: sociability, responsibility, openness, kindness and neuroticism”
However, the same does not happen when kindness is to be addressed to ourselves. When we make a mistake, we often act in a self-punishing and cruel manner, dedicating bitter words that promote internal discourse that pulls us into intense and difficult emotional experiences. It is important to remember that all we can feel is preceded by a thought, so that in it lies the germ of both emotion and behavior.
This way of treating oneself is deployed, on numerous occasions, completely independent of the particularities of the explosive situation. Even in the event that the misfortune is due to bad luck or the role of third parties, we continue to besiege ourselves with destructive terms of which we usually have no proof. Phrases like “I’m useless” or “I’m worth nothing” give a good account of this..
Most people who indulge in this pernicious habit recognize that they would never dedicate these words to a friend in the event that they were in a similar situation, and in that case they would try to be more understanding and helpful. . to make it less cruel. This would be the most socially accepted attitude, but one which can very rarely be observed when such words are directed against one’s own adversity.
Kindness is about projecting the same affection and understanding that we have towards ourselves in others, so that we can treat ourselves as if we are the best of our friends. It requires rephrasing the dynamics of thought, to shift harmful words to other different terms, which may have deep connections with positive affections that allow us to live better and more satisfied lives.
Fallibility is the ability to recognize yourself as a being who can make mistakes, Likely to fail and / or make bad decisions, or who is generally just plain flawed. It’s about accepting that sometimes the expectations that were designed for life may not be met (for different reasons). It would prevent the eruption of “should”, very rigid thoughts of how things should be.
We live gripped by multiple stimuli that remind us of how imperfect we are, but force us to reveal ourselves against it. When we flip through a magazine or watch TV, we witness perfect bodies and successful lives. This savage exposure, intended for purely commercial purposes, can result in comparative judgments in which we generally bear all the losers.
At worst, this circumstance can cause us to view our problems as truly unique and that no one else is making the mistakes we unfortunately fall into. Even social media, in which its users tend to capture the best that happens to them (ignoring the unpleasant moments that are also a part of life), contributes to the formation of this negative image of our own imperfection.
The truth, however, is that imperfection is common to all people. From the most popular singer to the most praised actor, we all go through gray moments that can stretch over long periods of time. This is why the fact of being imperfect is a quality inherent in the human being, and gives a particular value to the individuality of each one.
3. Pay attention
Mindfulness is the third element of self-compassion, being a literal translation of mindfulness, Which refers to a meditative practice whose roots are rooted in the ancient monastic traditions of Buddhism. It constitutes a series of habits based on the contemplative life, but which add an active component to the experience of being deliberately present in the moment in which one lives.
Full attention involves a concrete way of dealing with facts that removes judgment from them, as this often takes us away from who they really are. It is a new learner’s gaze, in which for a moment the automatisms of the mind are let go to deepen what surrounds us, fully perceiving what things are and stripping us of any attempt to label or classify them.
Likewise, all attention is intended or intended to focus attention on what is in the present, ignoring influences from the past and expectations for the future. It is a question of assuming a witness mind which observes internal processes, diluting the association which binds us to thought and brings us to identify with it. This is: a philosophy of life in which we have abandoned the tendency to believe that we are “thought”, to take the role of a being “who thinks”But it’s much more than that.
This concept aims to question the validity of self-punitive thoughts, observing from a distance so as not to get caught up in the emotional stream in which they usually get caught. This disposition, along with the patient practice of kindness and the integration of imperfection as an inherent reality in all human beings, is the key to a compassionate way of interacting with ourselves.
Beneficial Effects of Having Self-Compassion
There is a great deal of interest in the scientific literature to identify, describe, measure and quantify the benefits associated with self-compassion in terms of quality of life. and reduced discomfort. For this reason, the last few years have seen an increasing number of studies aimed at exploring these phenomena, which have spread to many areas of human knowledge: psychology, medicine, education, etc.
There are programs aimed at stimulating self-compassion, which have been subjected to analysis to determine their effects. In this regard, some recent meta-analyzes indicate that those who decide to embark on this therapeutic process improve their ability to discriminate against the pain that emerges as a result of their negative thoughts, recognizing how the absence of compassion results in their emotional life.
This recognition mobilizes a series of changes in the perception that we have not only of the human being in general, but also of the individual in particular, in relation to imperfection. This type of practice involves conceiving a gentler view of ourselves, which makes it easier to process the experience. emotional and reduces the risk of clinically important emotional problems. This effect has been reproduced in people vulnerable to psychopathology.
Self-compassion also has a positive effect on health-related quality of life, a concept that encompasses the general well-being of the individual in terms of perceived functioning of their body and mind, both of which are integrated into one. space of its own.
In short, a compassionate attitude allows us to be more righteous with who we are, with our imperfections and with our limitations. It also gives us a more precise view of our emotional reality, being able to become aware of it without overflowing in its intensity, and allows us to use kinder language when addressing ourselves. All of this translates into an increase in self-esteem and a reduced risk of suffering from psychological disorders.
To achieve self-compassion as a thing of one’s own, one must overcome initial resistance, along with conscious and deliberate practice of the three principles set forth here.
- Arimitsu, K. (2016). The effects of a program to improve self-compassion in Japanese individuals: a randomized controlled pilot study. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 11 (6), 559-571.
- Richardson, D., Jaber, S., Chan, S., Jesse, MT, Kaur, H., and Sangha, R. (2016). Self-compassion and empathy: impact on burnout and secondary traumatic stress in medical education. Open Journal of Epidemiology, 6, 167-172.