The Importance Of Self Compassion

We have been talking about Mindful Living, and how being open to the full range of human emotion rather than avoiding difficult feelings and experiences leads to a “Good Life”. Mindfulness, being open to your experiences, both good and bad, is also an important part of having Self-Compassion.

Researcher Kirsten Neff has studied Self-Compassion for many years, and has found that Self-Compassion is crucial for our mental health and wellbeing. Individuals with Self-Compassion understand their own thoughts and feelings better, and are more able to cope during difficult times in their life. Having Self-Compassion helps to reduce anxiety and depression, and to maintain happy, healthy relationships.

So what is Self-Compassion? According to Neff (2011), Self-Compassion means “being kind to oneself when confronting personal inadequacies or situational difficulties, framing the imperfection of life in terms of common humanity, and being Mindful of negative emotions so that one neither suppresses nor ruminates on them.”

This means we need to look at things from the “big picture” of life, not get caught up in the negative emotions of the moment, but also allow ourselves to experience them as they are, without beating ourselves up about whatever it is we have said or done. No one is perfect!

In researching couples, Neff (2011) found that people who had greater Self-Compassion felt more authentic, happy and satisfied in their romantic relationship; they were also more likely to be described by their partners as affectionate, intimate and accepting of others. On the other hand, people who had less Self-Compassion were more likely to be controlling, detached or verbally aggressive in their relationship.

In a relationship, Self-Compassion allows you to own up to your own mistakes, forgive yourself, but it also helps you to work at making things better. You are also less dependent on your partner to meet all of your needs, especially emotional, and you have Mind(ful) space to be open to your partner’s experiences too.

To find out more about Self-Compassion, including testing your own Self-Compassion, go to self-compassion.org.