Choose Self-Compassion over Self-Esteem
You : “Hey, I have some great news! This year I was offered an outstanding 10% salary raise!” Me : “Congratulations! I have some great news too. My company offered me a 15% raise!”
What is your first reaction ? Has this ever happened to you ? Let me guess … In your head you are calling me a jerk for stealing your thunder, which will soon be followed by losing every ounce of happiness you felt upon being appreciated at work. A simple conversation about achievements has led you to questioning your growth, in turn hitting your self-esteem the hardest.
Simply put, self-esteem is how much we like ourselves. In current times, this has transformed into how different and “special” we are, in comparison to others. The competitive nature of our times has forced us into believing that average isn’t good. One must be above average and beat all odds in order to feel good about themselves.
Why is this wrong ? Doesn’t this motivate us to strive to attain more ?
A low self-esteem is certainly problematic leading to negative impacts such as depression, however, a high self-esteem is equally troublesome. A high self-esteem promotes the idea of narcissism where we feel the need to put others down in order to feel good about our achievements. It is this self-absorbed behavior that prevents us from participating in the happiness of others.
You may fake your happiness in that short conversation by saying “I’m so happy for you!”, but do you truly feel happy ? From work and salary comparisons to who is pretty or thin, we are evaluating our self-worth based on individuals who haven’t even contributed to our individual journey. Each one of us has a unique story to success that we have built with hard work and perseverance. Why then, do we lose sight of our individual achievements to clutter our minds with someone else’s desires ?
Competition is important for growth, but when it turns into an unhealthy race to shatter another, it’s time to introspect. With social media playing a huge role in our lives, it can be difficult to ignore a multitude of reasons for comparison, turning ourselves into one’s own worst critic. This lack of kindness and mindfulness in our behavior has led us to leading unhappy lives.
This is where self-compassion comes in. We all deserve compassion which is not based on how well we have done in life, how we look or what we possess. Self-esteem and self-compassion may appear similar, but here are 3 fundamental reasons why they are different:
How often have you yelled ” I never get anything I want in life !! “ ?
Self-compassion does NOT imply self-pity. This would force an egocentric view of the world where we exaggerate our problems and ignore the simple fact that others have similar problems. A self-compassionate person can accept failure, suffering or feelings of inadequacy without painting an idealistic portrait of life.
We tend to be weary of our personal shortcomings and weaknesses and often tend to be overly critical of ourselves. Self-compassion can allow us to accept our shortcomings and offer the necessary motivation to take the first step towards growth and change in our lives.
The next time you are hating yourself for the trivial inadequacies of life, be kind to yourself and look at the broader perspective.
” Just leave me alone! I have a lot on my mind “
When life isn’t going as planned, we tend to isolate ourselves from everyone and live a disconnected life. We feel the burden of the entire world on our shoulders, and this isolation only magnifies our problems even further.
Self-compassion offers this much needed connectedness, to prevent us from feeling alone. It is the acknowledgement of being imperfect and the recognition of suffering as part of human life. A non-judgmental view of our lives can prevent us from taking everything too personally and amplifying our common problems. Enabling communication presents unlimited potential to strive through difficulties with ease as opposed to sulking away in deep regret.
” I want everything he/she does “
Ever truly focused on your endless thoughts and how they often impact your energy during the day ? Self-compassion provides self-clarity. It will allow you to define your needs and desires with a balanced state of mind. We must neither suppress nor exaggerate our emotions, but remain mindful of the existence of it.
Mindfulness is a pause — the space between stimulus and response. This is what will allow clear decision making as opposed to irrational and impulsive thinking. It is the awareness of the present moment, good or bad, with the acceptance of its temporary nature. You may also wish to read Taming your Monkey Mind
Research has shown that in comparison to self-esteem, self-compassion offers greater self-clarity, coupled with emotional resilience and long lasting caring relationships, as well as reduced self-indulgence and anger.
Let’s work on acceptance through introspection today and make ourselves compassionate towards ourselves and others to be HAPPY.