Does self-compassion mean letting yourself off the hook? Spoiler alert: NO!

Does self-compassion mean letting yourself off the hook? Spoiler alert: NO!

Off the back of an increasing body of fascinating research, I’ve increasingly become a fan and advocate of self-compassion as a core strategy for happiness and mental health.

After all, it’s hard to be happy if you can’t even like yourself!

Health and happiness require self-care and self-compassion is the ideal way to deliver this.

But many are concerned that self-compassion might have negative consequences; that it means lowering one’s standards and/or letting oneself off the hook or not persevering in the face of adversity.

Just so you know, this is NOT the case. And if you’d like to learn more, then keep reading…

via Fulfilment Daily by Kristen Neff

The Challenge: Fear that it amounts to excuse-making is a barrier to practicing self-compassion

The Science: Studies show that self-compassionate people are more likely to make up for mistakes

The Solution: Self-compassion actually allows us to face all parts of ourselves openly and honestly

Acommon stumbling block when thinking about self-compassion is the belief that it just means letting ourselves off the hook. When we say “it’s only human,” isn’t this just a way to blow off personal responsibility for our actions? But let’s look at this more closely. First of all, isn’t it strange that admitting the fact that we’re flawed human beings is perceived as not being honest with ourselves? Isn’t the honest truth that we are only human? No matter how hard we try, we will mess up, fail, blow it, and step out of line. To believe that somehow that’s not the case, that if we were just to try a teeny-weeny bit harder perfection would be possible, is the real self-deception. Does this mean we should therefore just abandon all our efforts to be responsible and do the right thing? Of course not. Admitting that we’re fallible human beings doing the best we can and being compassionate to ourselves in the face of our misdeeds, actually allows us to take more responsibility for our actions.

First of all, when we relate to ourselves kindly even when we’ve behaved badly, it’s safe to face the truth about ourselves. We don’t need to deny what we’ve done or distort the storyline so that we blame anyone other than ourselves for what happened. Mea culpa. I can own up to it, because even though my behavior might have been bad, that doesn’t mean that I AM BAD. I can own up to what I’ve done without fear, because admitting responsibility doesn’t require throwing myself off the cliff of harsh self-condemnation.

Self-compassion means that we understand the myriad causes and conditions that lead us to act as we do. Compassion is wise and sees through the illusion that we have total control over our actions. Compassion acknowledges the truth that we are limited, imperfect beings who are impacted by things over which we have no control — our genes, early family history, culture, life circumstances. That’s why self-compassion is understanding and accepting rather than punitive and rebuking. At the same time, compassion is intrinsically concerned with the alleviation of suffering — our own and that of others. If we make mistakes or harm other people and deny responsibility for our actions, we will inevitably be causing further suffering and won’t learn or grow from our experiences. We will keep ourselves stuck in the same unproductive cycle of behavior that will plague us over and over again. This is another reason why self-compassion spurs us to take responsibility and correct our mistakes — because we care and want to thrive…

…keep reading HERE for the full & original article, with reference to just some of the many, fascinating research studies in this area.