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Self Compassion VS. Self Esteem

It has been said that "the self esteem movement" creates a culture based on narcassism. We compare ourselves to others, we require status and power to feel valued. There comes a sense of being deserving of lifes rewards and a right not to be wounded or hurt by our experiences. Too strong a focus on building self esteem can lead to a need for external approval, needing to know from others that we are valued and deserving of that value. This leads to the risk of additional suffering when things, as they inevitably do in life, become difficult.


It can be a destabalising process that requires regular renewal and, like any addictive substance or action, requires increasingly higher doses each time to get the same hit.


A more helpful place to seek a sense of equilibrium might be through "self compassion." This is a more internal nurturing process whereby we treat ourselves with the same levels of kindness and care we would others we love and accept we are deserving of it. We do not base our worth solely on the things we succeed at - things bringing some form of esteem - but on an undertsanding that everyone leads problematic and varied lives where things often change - that the hills and valleys of life are an essential part of what it means to be human.


Instead of hearing the inner critic that adds to your pain when things go wrong or becoming increasingly dependant on a feeling of elation with success, it is more helpful to think what guidance you might offer a friend in your circumstances and to offer that compassion to yourself, accepting that you are as susceptible to the unpredictable nature of life as anyone else and just as deserving of care.

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