What is the difference between self-compassion and self-esteem and how does it affect our chances of success in life?
No one likes to feel bad about themselves, and many people are looking for positive ways to tell them what they are doing wrong.
One way to do this is through self-esteem, a sense of worth that stems from having good qualities or traits.
We usually see self-esteem as interchangeable with happiness.
However, such a definition of self-esteem makes it difficult for those with low self-worth because the negative feelings accompanying that can be painful.
Self-esteem is also associated with the number of things one has rather than the quality.
Self-esteem is often confused with self-compassion.
This thought often marks Self-compassion, “I need to help myself.” While it may seem that self-compassion automatically leads to a better quality of life, it would be wise to realize that this is not always the case.
Self-esteem and self-compassion are both essential aspects; they are just not interchangeable.
Unfortunately, people often confuse the two because of their similar-sounding names.
However, it is important to understand that self-compassion is more of an empathetic and compassionate understanding, while self-esteem is a selfish and judgmental concept.
To understand the differences between self-esteem and self-compassion, we must first understand how each term applies to one’s mental health.
According to Dr. Kristin Neff, a psychologist at the University of Texas, “Self-compassion is defined as ‘kindness directed toward oneself without any judgment or criticism; a quality of being aware of the suffering that accompanies life and choosing to care about that suffering to reduce it.'”
Essentially, self-compassion is the ability to be compassionate towards oneself and understand that one is not alone in their struggles.
An understanding of this can decrease feelings of shame and guilt entirely.
Another example of self-compassion is that of being open to the experience of pain.
When practising self-compassion, one can be willing to feel the pain and do whatever one needs to manage it.
Empathy is an extension of self-compassion; in fact, many would say that empathy is simply the ability to see another’s point of view.
However, people with high self-esteem may be afraid to feel anything because they feel like that might somehow diminish their value.
An example of this is a person who would instead work harder or longer than another person because they believe that their work will someday pay off in the end.
Because of this fear, a person may appear to be very hard-working, but they work themselves to death in reality.
This trait can also include people who do not value their time or are late for everything. If they spent more time getting ready for a meeting, they might be late to work.
They would spend every spare second to ensure that they put all the work in an hour before their coworkers.
Self-esteem and self-compassion are both essential elements of one’s mental health.
They are not two separate entities; however, a combination of both is necessary for one’s well being.
Self-compassion is a perception of the world and oneself that emphasises common humanity and shared vulnerability.
The growth of self-esteem in an individual begins at home, whether by loving parents, a competitive sibling or an overly critical uncle. It is up to the individual to learn how to deal with their emotions rather than avoid them altogether.
Source: BBC Worklife.
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Thank you for this explanation. I think so many of us have been taught to work on self esteem and we have never even considered the idea of self compassion. At least that how it seems it was in my house. I am going to have to ponder this more.
That was a very in depth read! I had not thought about the difference between the two before regularly, and it had me wondering about their relationship. Would you say that they balance each other out, as in if I have too much self compassion my self esteem will decrease? Or must they co exist, as in I cannot experience true self esteem without self compassion?
My experience suggests that we always have both in varying degrees. I think they are both required for a balanced life. Self esteem cannot have full validity without self compassion in my opinion. Thank you for your comment and question.
This was very insightful and well done 👍 💝
Thank you for your comment.
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Thank you for your encouraging comment.