Auschwitz, Oswiecim, Poland

Many of us react to our failures by chastising ourselves for our mistakes. We figuratively (and sometimes literally) beat ourselves up. In small doses, self-criticism can be helpful - it encourages us to take responsibility for our actions and motivates us to improve ourselves - but excessive self-criticism can be debilitating and self-defeating. 

Self-compassion is similar to self-esteem in some respects, but unlike self-esteem it's not about how you judge yourself but how you treat yourself. In other words, whether you judge (good or bad) about yourself in a given moment, you can still have compassion for yourself. 

Self-compassion is associated with many positive outcomes, such as increased resilience to stressful events, greater psychological well-being, and a reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety. Although self-compassion might seem a bit too self-focused, research suggests that self-compassionate people are also more compassionate towards others.

Here are a five excellent approaches to increasing self-compassion.

  1. Step outside yourself. To trick yourself into treating yourself better, pretend that someone you care about is in your shoes instead—what would you say to them?
  2. Find your inner caregiver. a person or spiritual being who is unconditionally loving, and who possesses whatever characteristics one would hope for in a caregiver
  3. Remember that mistakes make you human and more likeable. When other people make mistakes, they often seem more human and accessible, even endearing. They also make us feel like it's okay if we too are imperfect.
  4. Engage your senses. You can put yourself in a self-compassionate mood by surrounding yourself with soothing images, smells, or music.
  5. Identify subtle forms of self-harm. Self-destructive behaviors aren't limited to deliberate self-injury. They could involve exercising to the point of injury, driving recklessly, drinking yourself into oblivion, neglecting to take care of your health, or even being more accident-prone than usual.

According to Jean Paul Sartre: “Who is authentic assumes the responsibility of what he is and recognizes himself free to be what he is”. The authentic person practices congruence, expresses what he feels and thinks assertively. However, authenticity is not confined to congruence, it is not simply “being oneself”, but it also implies a deep inner knowledge, the ability to assume responsibilities, and a solid self-esteem that does not depend on the opinions of others.

If you are interested in knowing more about yourself and treating yourself better, I invite you to start a psychotherapy process.

Pablo Munoz