Many times we think compassion is limited for the sick and the needy, and while that is very important, the reality is compassion is needed all around us and it can start first and foremost with having self- compassion.
Dr. Kristin Neff , a graduate from Berkeley, in her research and book on "self-compassion" (2015) cited how having self-compassion is related to increased well-being, motivation, happiness and connecting with others and decreased levels of anxiety and depression.
She speaks about how self-compassion, is the idea that we, along with everyone on the planet, have flaws, weaknesses, and 'failures'. It is being ok with not being perfect because nobody is perfect - no matter what their profiles on facebook or LinkedIn looks like.
Self-compassion is not 'self-pity' because self-compassion is about recognizing all of those 'icky' feelings you have with kindness, which in fact enables you to let go of them rather than keep them bottled up inside.
It's also not about being 'weak' - research is now showing us that self-compassion can be a great way to cope with life's struggles and enable us to be more resilient and bounce back after adversity.
Self-compassion is also not about giving ourselves excuses to take a 'back seat' in how we manage our lives - to recognize our struggles with kindness, enables us to feel emotionally grounded. Also, according to research, self-compassion is more powerful than blaming and shaming ourselves, because we recognize the challenges but can also recognize our strengths and how to continue to build on those in order to be our best selves.
Self-compassion is not about feeling better than others which is sometimes referred to as having a high sense of self-esteem. Although there is a lot of emphasis on having high self-esteem, the reality is this quest for being above average and standing out, if not prefaced with a healthy attitude and intention, can lead to narcissism which is not healthy and not what self-compassion is really about. On the other hand, self-compassion is this idea once again of acknowledging our inherently imperfect humanity. So while self-esteem can fluctuate, self-compassion should always be there as a base for us to go back to and say even though things aren't great now, it's okay, it happens because we are human.
Finally, self-compassion is not about being selfish, because when we can be kind and nurturing to ourselves, we can continue to care for the people we love most. Remember we cannot give what we don't have. This is especially true for women who are known to be 'givers' and 'nurturers'.
Essentially having self-compassion can lead the path for you to be more successful and more compassionate with others.
Raghad Ebied is an author, doctoral researcher and education and training consultant. She is currently a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Education at Western University, an Ontario Certified Teacher and has completed a B.A., B.Ed, and MSc. in Educational Leadership. She brings over 15 years of experience in education, training and consulting in Canada, the U.S and the Middle East.