The Truth About Self-Compassion

Originally posted on Tuesday, January 03, 2017

An editor at recently interviewed me for an article she wrote called, The Truth About Self-Compassion. She asked me, "What do you wish people really understood about self-compassion?" Here is my response.

I wish people really understood that self-compassion is fundamentally about caring about yourself. It’s about treating yourself like you would your best friend: with kindness, attention, love, and responsiveness. It’s saying to yourself, “I’m here for you. I care about you and I want to support you.”

I believe this compassionate attitude towards ourselves is the foundation for sustainable change. Oftentimes when we want to change something about ourselves it’s coming from shame or self-loathing, and this manifests as harsh self-criticism. We go about trying to improve ourselves hoping that will protect us from the harshness. It can sound like, “When I’ve lost 20 pounds, then I’ll love myself,” or, “Once I can give a public talk without stuttering, then I’ll accept myself.”

We postpone our self-acceptance, saving it for the day we meet our own standards. But for perfectionists and others with high standards, that day never comes. The good news is we don’t need to withhold our love from ourselves in order to change.

In fact, it’s just the opposite: The more we love ourselves, the more we feel our own support and therefore can take risks and challenge ourselves and blossom into our fullness. Self-criticism says, “You’re not enough as you are and I won’t love you until you’re a better version of a human being.” Self-compassion says, “I love you now, as you are. I see that you’re suffering. What can I do to support you right now?”

You can read the whole article, called The Truth About Self-Compassion, by Margarita Tartakovsky, here.