The majority of us would readily agree that kindness and compassion are extremely important. It adds quality and a connection within our lives. Whether this is kindness to our close friends and family groups or kindness on a wider community scale. Through volunteering or the opportunity for one of those standalone ‘Random acts of Kindness’ to a stranger which we often hear about. These are the stories and the experiences that give us that warm, fuzzy glow deep inside.
However, whilst we see the value of kindness towards others, and appreciate kindness that others show towards us, we often overlook the importance and value of self-kindness.
For some and certainly within past generations the idea of self-kindness or self-compassion carries with it negativity associated with some of those other ‘self’ terms: self-centred, self-serving, self-indulgent or even just plain selfish.
Dr Kristin Neff, one of the world’s leading experts on self-compassion has discovered that the number one reason people give for why they aren’t more self-compassionate is that they’re afraid if they’re too soft on themselves, they’ll let themselves get away with anything. They believe that their internal judge plays a crucial role in keeping them in line and on track. In other words, they confuse self-compassion with self-indulgence.
Just take a few seconds to consider the way in which we think and talk about ourselves, the language we may use, the negative name calling. Would we use this same language to others, to our friends? The likelihood is that if we did, we would see that friendship group starting to diminish. So why do we think it’s acceptable to treat ourselves in this way?
While the motivational power of self-criticism comes from fear, the motivational power of self-compassion comes from love. When we care about ourselves, we’ll try to change any behaviours that are causing us harm. We’ll also be much more likely to admit those areas that need change because it’s emotionally safer to see ourselves clearly.
Research strongly supports the idea that self-compassion enhances motivation. For instance, many studies show that people who are self-compassionate are less depressed and anxious than self-critics. They tend to set goals related to personal growth and learning rather than just as a means to impress others.
Acts of kindness and compassion have the potential to make the world a happier place but remember ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’. Make sure you’re not the only one missing out on these benefits