Why Self-Compassion Trumps Self-Esteem

By Kristin Neff | May 27, 2011 | 49 comments

Researcher Kristin Neff reveals the benefits of going easy on yourself: less anxiety, less conflict, and more peace of mind.

In this incredibly competitive society of ours, how many of us truly feel good about ourselves?

I remember once, as a freshman in college, after spending hours getting ready for a big party, I complained to my boyfriend that my hair, makeup, and outfit were woefully inadequate. He tried to reassure me by saying, “Don’t worry, you look fine.”

Juan Estey Juan Estey

Fine? Oh great, I always wanted to look fine . . .”

The desire to feel special is understandable. The problem is that by definition it’s impossible for everyone to be above average at the same time. Although there are some ways in which we excel, there is always someone smarter, prettier, more successful. How do we cope with this?

Not very well. To see ourselves positively, we tend to inflate our own egos and put others down so that we can feel good in comparison. But this strategy comes at a price—it holds us back from reaching our full potential in life.

How can we grow if we can’t acknowledge our own weaknesses? We might temporarily feel better about ourselves by ignoring our flaws, or by believing our issues and difficulties are somebody else’s fault, but in the long run we only harm ourselves by getting stuck in endless cycles of stagnation and conflict.

Continually feeding our need for positive self-evaluation is a bit like stuffing ourselves with candy. We get a brief sugar high, then a crash. And right after the crash comes a pendulum swing to despair as we realize that—however much we’d like to—we can’t always blame our problems on someone else. We can’t always feel special and above average.

The result is often devastating. Most of us are incredibly hard on ourselves when we finally admit some flaw or shortcoming: “I’m not good enough. I’m worthless.”

And of course, the goalposts for what counts as “good enough” seem always to remain out of reach. No matter how well we do, someone else always seems to be doing it better. The result of this line of thinking is sobering: Millions of people need to take pharmaceuticals every day just to cope with daily life. Insecurity, anxiety, and depression are incredibly common in our society, and much of this is due to self-judgment, to beating ourselves up when we feel we aren’t winning in the game of life.

Another way

So what’s the answer? To stop judging and evaluating ourselves altogether. To stop trying to label ourselves as “good” or “bad” and simply accept ourselves with an open heart. To treat ourselves with the same kindness, caring, and compassion we would show to a good friend—or even a stranger, for that matter.

When I first came across the idea of “self-compassion,” it changed my life almost immediately. It was during my last year in the human development doctoral program at the University of California, Berkeley, as I was putting the finishing touches on my dissertation. I was going through a really difficult time following the breakup of my first marriage, and I was full of shame and self-loathing. I thought signing up for meditation classes at a local Buddhist center might help. As part of my exploration, I read Sharon Salzberg’s classic book Lovingkindness and was never the same again.

I had known that Buddhists talk a lot about the importance of compassion, but I had never considered that having compassion for yourself might be as important as having compassion for others. From the Buddhist point of view, you have to care about yourself before you can really care about other people.

I remember talking to my new fiancé, Rupert, who joined me for the weekly Buddhist group meetings, and shaking my head in amazement. “You mean you’re actually allowed to be nice to yourself, to have compassion for yourself when you mess up or are going through a really hard time? I don’t know . . . if I’m too self-compassionate, won’t I just be lazy and selfish?” It took me a while to get my head around it.

But I slowly came to realize that self-criticism—despite being socially sanctioned—was not at all helpful, and in fact only made things worse. I wasn’t making myself a better person by beating myself up all the time. Instead, I was causing myself to feel inadequate and insecure, then taking out my frustration on the people closest to me. More than that, I wasn’t owning up to many things because I was so afraid of the self-hate that would follow if I admitted the truth.

After getting my Ph.D., I did two years of postdoctoral training with a leading self-esteem researcher. I quickly learned that although thousands of articles had been written on the importance of self-esteem, researchers were now starting to point out all the traps that people can fall into when they try to get and keep a sense of high self-esteem: narcissism, self-absorption, self-righteous anger, prejudice, discrimination, and so on.

I realized that self-compassion was the perfect alternative to the relentless pursuit of self-esteem. Why? Because it offers the same protection against harsh self-criticism as self-esteem, but without the need to see ourselves as perfect or as better than others. In other words, self-compassion provides the same benefits as high self-esteem without its drawbacks.

Although no one had yet defined self-compassion from an academic perspective—let alone done any research on it—I knew that this would be my life’s work.

Over the past decade, research that my colleagues and I have conducted shows that self-compassion is a powerful way to achieve emotional well-being and contentment in our lives, helping us avoid destructive patterns of fear, negativity, and isolation. More so than self-esteem, the nurturing quality of self-compassion allows us to flourish, to appreciate the beauty and richness of life, even in hard times. When we soothe our agitated minds with self-compassion, we’re better able to notice what’s right as well as what’s wrong, so that we can orient ourselves toward that which gives us joy.

The science of self-compassion

So what is self-compassion? What does it mean exactly?

Kristin Neff’s new book, <a href=“http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0061733512?ie=UTF8&tag=gregooscicen-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0061733512”><i>Self-Compassion</i> (William Morrow, 2011)</a>. Kristin Neff's new book, Self-Compassion (William Morrow, 2011).

As I’ve defined it, self-compassion entails three core components. First, it requires self-kindness, that we be gentle and understanding with ourselves rather than harshly critical and judgmental. Second, it requires recognition of our common humanity, feeling connected with others in the experience of life rather than feeling isolated and alienated by our suffering. Third, it requires mindfulness—that we hold our experience in balanced awareness, rather than ignoring our pain or exaggerating it. We must achieve and combine these three essential elements in order to be truly self-compassionate.

This means that unlike self-esteem, the good feelings of self-compassion do not depend on being special and above average, or on meeting ideal goals. Instead, they come from caring about ourselves—fragile and imperfect yet magnificent as we are. Rather than pitting ourselves against other people in an endless comparison game, we embrace what we share with others and feel more connected and whole in the process. And the good feelings of self-compassion don’t go away when we mess up or things go wrong. In fact, self-compassion steps in precisely where self-esteem lets us down—whenever we fail or feel inadequate.

Sure, you skeptics may be saying to yourself, but what does the research show?

The bottom line is that according to the science, self-compassion does in fact appear to offer the same advantages as high self-esteem, with no discernable downsides.

The first thing to know is that self-compassion and self-esteem do tend to go together. If you’re self-compassionate, you’ll tend to have higher self-esteem than if you’re endlessly self-critical. And like high self-esteem, self-compassion is associated with significantly less anxiety and depression, as well as more happiness, optimism, and positive emotions. However, self-compassion offers clear advantages over self-esteem when things go wrong, or when our egos are threatened.

In one study my colleagues and I conducted, for instance, undergraduate students were asked to fill out measures of self-compassion and self-esteem. Next came the hard part. They were asked to participate in a mock job interview to “test their interviewing skills.”

A lot of undergrads are nervous about the interviewing process, especially given that they will soon be applying for jobs in real life. As part of the experiment, students were asked to write an answer to that dreaded but inevitable interview question, “Please describe your greatest weakness.” Afterward they were asked to report how anxious they were feeling.

Participants’ self-compassion levels, but not their self-esteem levels, predicted how much anxiety they felt. In other words, self-compassionate students reported feeling less self-conscious and nervous than those who lacked self-compassion, presumably because they felt okay admitting and talking about their weak points.

Students with high self-esteem, by contrast, were no less anxious than those with low self-esteem, having been thrown off balance by the challenge of discussing their failings. And interestingly, self-compassionate people used fewer first-person singular pronouns such as “I” when writing about their weaknesses, instead using more third-person plural pronouns such as “we.” They also made references to friends, family, and other humans more often. This suggests that the sense of interconnectedness inherent to self-compassion plays an important role in its ability to buffer against anxiety.

Another study required people to imagine being in potentially embarrassing situations: being on a sports team and blowing a big game, for instance, or performing in a play and forgetting one’s lines. How would participants feel if something like this happened to them?

Self-compassionate participants were less likely to feel humiliated or incompetent, or to take it too personally. Instead, they said they would take things in stride, thinking thoughts like “Everybody goofs up now and then” and “In the long run, this doesn’t really matter.” Having high self-esteem, however, made little difference. Those with both high and low self-esteem were equally likely to have thoughts like, “I’m such a loser” or “I wish I could die.” Once again, high self-esteem tends to come up empty-handed when the chips are down.

In a different study, participants were asked to make a videotape that would introduce and describe themselves. They were then told that someone would watch their tape and give them feedback in terms of how warm, friendly, intelligent, likable, and mature they appeared (the feedback was bogus, of course).

Half the participants received positive feedback, the other half neutral feedback. Self-compassionate people were relatively unflustered regardless of whether the feedback was positive or neutral, and they were willing to say the feedback was based on their own personality either way. People with high levels of self-esteem, however, tended to get upset when they received neutral feedback (what, I’m just average?). They were also more likely to deny that the neutral feedback was due to their own personality (surely it’s because the person who watched the tape was an idiot!).

This suggests that self-compassionate people are better able to accept who they are regardless of the degree of praise they receive from others. Self-esteem, on the other hand, only thrives when the reviews are good and may lead to evasive and counterproductive tactics when there’s a possibility of facing unpleasant truths about oneself.

Recently, my colleague Roos Vonk and I investigated the benefits of self-compassion versus self-esteem with more than three thousand people from various walks of life, the largest study to examine this issue so far.

First, we examined the stability of positive feelings these people experienced toward themselves self over time. Did these feelings tend to go up and down like a yo-yo or were they relatively constant? We hypothesized that self-esteem would be associated with relatively unstable feelings of self-worth, since self-esteem tends to be diminished whenever things don’t turn out as well as desired. On the other hand, because compassion can be extended to oneself in both good times and bad, we expected the feelings of self-worth to remain steadier over time among self-compassionate people.

To test this idea, we had participants report on how they were feeling toward themselves at the time—for instance, “I feel inferior to others at this moment” or “I feel good about myself”—doing so 12 different times over a period of eight months.

Next, we calculated the degree to which overall levels of self-compassion or self-esteem predicted stability in self-worth over this period. As expected, self-compassion was clearly associated with steadier and more constant feelings of self-worth than self-esteem. We also found that self-compassion was less likely than self-esteem to be contingent on outside factors like social approval, success in competitions, or feeling attractive. When our sense of self-worth stems from being a human being intrinsically worthy of respect—rather than being contingent on reaching certain goals—our sense of self-worth is much less easily shaken.

We also found that in comparison to self-esteem, self-compassion was associated with less social comparison and less need to retaliate for perceived personal slights. It was also linked to less “need for cognitive closure,” which is psych-speak for the need to be right without question. People who invest their self-worth in feeling superior and infallible tend to get angry and defensive when their status is threatened. People who compassionately accept their imperfection, however, no longer need to engage in such unhealthy behaviors to protect their egos.

In fact, a striking finding of the study was that people with high self-esteem were much more narcissistic than those with low self-esteem. In contrast, self-compassion was completely unassociated with narcissism, meaning that people who are high in self-compassion are no more likely to be narcissistic than people low in self-compassion.

An island of calm

Taken together, this research suggests that self-compassion provides an island of calm, a refuge from the stormy seas of endless positive and negative self-judgment, so that we can finally stop asking, “Am I as good as they are? Am I good enough?” By tapping into our inner wellsprings of kindness, acknowledging the shared nature of our imperfect human condition, we can start to feel more secure, accepted, and alive.

It does take work to break the self-criticizing habits of a lifetime, but at the end of the day, you are only being asked to relax, allow life to be as it is, and open your heart to yourself. It’s easier than you might think, and it could change your life.

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About The Author

Kristin Neff, Ph.D., is an associate professor in human development and culture at the University of Texas, Austin. She is the author of the new book Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind (William Morrow), from which this essay is adapted.

Learn how self-compassionate you are, as well as exercises for boosting self-compassion, on her website, www.self-compassion.org.

  

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Wow - awesome work doing the research you did. Like so many self-help topics, it begs the question, how do you improve self-compassion scores? It sounds easier said than done. In particular, I think of a friend of mine who is incredibly accomplished and has battled with poor self-esteem (or perhaps it’s a lack of self-compassion) for ever. She just can’t shake it, it seems.

Going back to your introduction to Buddhism, I too was introduced to Buddhist teachings years ago. I never found this concept of having compassion for one’s self. The focus, as it appeared to me, was to always shift your focus on others. (i.e. take the self out of self-help).

What I learnt was that feelings of worthlessness or other such feelings were mental afflictions brought on by past words or actions that had seared themselves in our subconscious minds. The antidote, was to make a point of doing something nice for someone else or celebrating the successes of others. By doing so, over time, your own feelings of worthlessness would go away. This strategy requires a good amount of discipline and mindfulness, of course.

My foray into Buddhism also led me into life coaching. I am now a trained life coach and COO of http://www.noomii.com, a coaching directory that helps people find their ideal coach. If you want to build your capacity to be self-compassionate, I strongly believe that working with a trained life coach can be the difference maker. Life coaching is all about helping you reframe your current thoughts and habits through active inquiry and mindfulness training.

Perhaps the next phase of research in this topic can look at the efficacy of interventions aimed at developing self-compassion?!

Stephan | 2:39 pm, May 25, 2011 | Link

 

I’m definitely not very self compassionate. It feels like I’m
making excuses if I say “you are x, but it’s just because you
are human like everyone else”

Russell | 2:47 pm, May 25, 2011 | Link

 

I dont know how effective this will be.  I would hate
to see people just apathetically going through life
just taking the mistakes that are made lightly; think
of that will do to our future generations.  A bunch of
willpowerless people sounds like a pathetic nation.

Julianne | 2:20 am, May 27, 2011 | Link

 

I think that self-compassion cannot be learnt or taught. It has to come as a natural emotional change, which takes years of psychotherapy and gaining awareness in different contexts. If you’re depressed and tend to beat yourself up a lot over everything, becoming self-compassionate is a glacial shift in attitude and outlook.

Anon | 2:31 pm, May 27, 2011 | Link

 

That seems so depressing…glacial speed. I like to think
that people can shift a little more radically, kinda like an
electronic skips valence levels. It just takes the willingness
and the right conditions.

Stephan | 11:21 pm, May 27, 2011 | Link

 

How do you score self-compassion.  hmmmm sounds like once again we are trying to quantify and thus have a comparison value.  I have more self-compassion than you blah blah blah.

Awareness and mindfulness.  Why does a 2000 year old philosophy have to be analyzed to death. Oh thats the western way…always ask why why why….instead of accept accept accept.

Pyschotherapy, finding the ‘right’ life coach, get the newest book.  Sounds like taking a life philosophy and turning it into an industry $$$.  Welcome to psychology.

andrea | 12:28 pm, May 28, 2011 | Link

 

What a great article! At a time in my life when I need it, this concept of self-compassion allows me to be kind to myself while seeing the human errors in my ways.  It allows me to have a learning experience without feeling like I should have known better.  It doesn’t take away the pain or has me ignore the pain, but it allows me to say it’s ok to feel the pain.  THANK YOU!

Mae | 11:16 pm, May 29, 2011 | Link

 

Thank you, Kristin. This is such important work. In a culture where self esteem is so ingrained, it’s refreshing (and a relief) to shift focus to self compassion. In the big picture, I believe it also provides an opportunity to focus on cooperation and collaboration rather than competition. Thank you for pioneering this work.

Roselle | 11:42 am, May 31, 2011 | Link

 

Great article, makes me want to raise my 5 year old
son to not be overly competitive. But my question is
whether by focusing on self-compassion instead of
using a competitive yardstick, e.g. grades, sports,
etc., there are decreases in some performance
characteristics that are needed to be highly successful
in competitive careers. Obviously, there are major
benefits to self-compassion, but what, if anything, is
given up? Have there been any studies suggesting that
a focus shift reduces career-based performance
indicators?

russell Long | 2:24 pm, May 31, 2011 | Link

 

Hummm, Even though I still know so very little I have
studied the Buddha’s teachings over many years and from
various perspectives. I feel confused by
your suggestion w/o supporting reference that “self
compassion” is a cornerstone…have I been so obtuse as to
not ever come across this tenet? I would like to see a lot
more literal support of your claims on the Buddha’s
perspective. So far, your work appears to be extremely
superficial and very unscientific.
Still I appreciate your interest and pursuit of beneficial
research.

Anon | 10:54 pm, May 31, 2011 | Link

 

Interesting article. This made me look at another perspective on how to improve myself more, not being overly critical of myself, being angry at times especially when things don’t go well as planned.

Jerry | 9:46 am, June 15, 2011 | Link

 

I wish I read this article while my six kids were still
young.  Self-esteem was one of the main
“principles” I wanted to “teach” my children.  (First
and foremost was “above all else is love”)
Unfortunately, if it’s not balanced, self-esteem can
backfire and become arrogance or feeling
inadequate.  Confidence is better, but can be
dangerous.  The term “self-compassion” is the
idea I was searching for in my heart. My five kids
have grown up healthy and confident, but I’m now
going to promote “self-compassion” with my 11
year old, my grandson, and the other grandkids I
hope for in the future smile Thank you for the new
outlook!  Teaching self-compassion would be a
great parenting skill.

fivekitten | 8:59 am, July 16, 2011 | Link

 

I agree that self-compassion and compassion for others are can help us lead happier lives.  I wonder though without any self-evaluation and judgement of our performance how can we grow and improve? Does your research address this at all?  If so could you share you findings?  Self compassionate evaluation seems like an ideal but a difficult one to put into practice. 
When you collect data for your study do you find that subjects that are more self compassionate are also “successful”  by some measure.  how would people of low and high self esteem compare?  I realize that success can be measured in a multitude of ways, which can be hard to capture in social science as one variable.  For certain my own idea of “success” includes happiness and compassion for ourselves and others but also more tangible aspects of life such as sufficient resources to feed, clothe, and provide a stable home.

lisa | 7:02 am, July 19, 2011 | Link

 

Wow this is very smartly written, and it makes so much sense! I think we only truly live our lives while we are immersed in the present moment and accepting of ourselves, otherwise life is just passing us by. Keeping “self-compassion” in mind is a very quick way of getting to that present moment awareness. It’s a good thing to practice over time. Thank you.

Danny | 5:30 pm, August 2, 2011 | Link

 

I like to say, “You are SO unique!”
Then add, “Just like everyone else.”

Anna | 3:25 pm, August 13, 2011 | Link

 

I have struggled with this issue for years. My main problem is comparing my current position in life with where I think I should be, and always falling short. Compounding this is my belief that I, and I alone, am responsible for my reality. I do not blame other people or society; everything is always my fault.

If I’m going to continue with this worldview, a healthy dose of self-compassion is essential. My fear, however, is that I will not hold myself to sufficiently high standards. There must be consequences for mistakes and poor performance or we will never improve. If doing a poor job is o.k., what incentive is there to do things right?

Having said all that, meditation practices can be enormously helpful here. I believe there was another article on Greater Good recently that talked of the benefits of a loving-kindness meditation. There is a particular brainwave frequency associated with this kind of meditation - the Gamma wave - which corresponds to high levels of whole-brain functioning and synergy. Alternatively, there is a frequency on the Alpha-Theta border corresponding to the resonant frequency of the earth and the ionosphere (7.5Hz) which opens up intriguing possibilities of connection with All That Is.

Meditation sessions can at least give us a period each day when we feel genuine compassion for ourselves and the rest of the universe. Hopefully, the sessions will have enduring effects that stay with us the rest of the day, gradually effecting what an earlier poster referred to as the glacial change to a more compassionate personality.

Meditation Can Help | 8:45 am, August 15, 2011 | Link

 

It is truly amazing how much giving yourself a break can do for your stress level.  Easier said than done, as I can contest.  Thanks for the article.

Paleo Diet Meal Plan | 8:25 pm, August 17, 2011 | Link

 

i dunno how this will work for some. especially those
who have been bullied in their lives and all they can
think about themselves is how horrible they look, or
how they really do not fit into the world. like someone
said, having self-compassion is not something you
can learn or be taught, it is something you need to
feel. sometimes it takes ages for someone to get to
that point in their lives.

julia | 9:34 pm, August 23, 2011 | Link

 

It might help to remember that self-compassion is not
so much about how you feel about yourself as it is
about how you treat yourself and how you talk to
yourself. It is about learning to cultivate the habit of
cutting yourself a break.  The feelings come later.

Stuart Dauerman | 9:42 pm, August 23, 2011 | Link

 

I’d like to clear up some of the misconceptions
evident in the comments.  First, self-compassion is
not about self-indulgence or letting yourself off the
hook.  It’s about caring for your own well-being
(extending the circle of compassion to yourself
rather than excluding yourself) and wanting to
relieve suffering.  If you engage in self-indulgence
or irresponsibility you are causing yourself and
others harm.  Research shows that self-
compassionate people tend to take more
responsibility for past mistakes (self-esteem doesn’t
predict this).  They are also oriented toward
personal growth and change.  Just as a
compassionate mother tries to motivate her child
through kindness rather than harsh, belittling
criticism (a much more effective tact), we can
motivate ourselves much more with kindness rather
than harsh, belittling self-criticism (there’s an
abundance of research supporting the maladaptive
motivational qualities of self-critisim.)

In terms of self-compassion not being part of
Buddhism, the practice of metta meditation,
central to both the Thervadan and Tibetan
traditions, always starts with generating
compassion for yourself before extending this to
others.

To the comment that this work is unscientific,
there’s close to 100 studies/dissertations supporting
the benefits of self-compassion.  Some of this is
physiological research showing different brain
patterns and the reduction of cortisol while people
give themselves compassion.) I’m not sure what
more would be needed to qualify as “scientific”

And in terms of the statement that self-compassion
can’t be taught, there are many studies showing
that self-compassion can be significantly increased
through programs like MBSR and Compassionate
Mind Training. I’ve also just developed a training
program called Mindful Self-Compassion in
collaboration with Chris Germer, and our recent
randomized controlled trial showed large,
significant changes in self-compassion.

Hope this helps.

Kristin Neff | 3:24 am, August 24, 2011 | Link

 

And I left out an important point.  Harsh self-
judgment does not imply that there is no judgment
in terms of what’s often called “wise
discrimination.”  Wise discrimination clearly sees
what behaviors are harmful and which are
beneficial.  If we didn’t have this ability, how could
we go about relieving suffering?  Harsh self-
judgment has a much more negative, belittling
tone, and is also aimed at a global evaluation of
the self rather than behavior.  Instead of saying “I
did a bad thing”, which allows you to correct the
behavior, harsh self-criticism says “I AM bad and
worthless,” which undermines your self-confidence,
leads to depression, and greatly hinders your ability
to correct mistakes.  Part of the power of self-
compassion in terms of wise discrimination is that
it’s much easier to see ourselves clearly and admit
our flaws when we feel it is emotionally safe to do
so.  If I know I will slam myself with harsh self-
criticism if I admit I’m wrong, I will be very
motivated to deny my culpability and blame things
on someone else.

Again, I hope this helps to clarify.

Kristin Neff | 3:36 am, August 24, 2011 | Link

 

I’m glad I stumbled on this article. I have been very depressed, no work, no money for weeks now. I spent much of my weekend feeling very worthless, and like I had nothing to contribute to society.

I am going to learn this technique and hopefully use this as a cognitive response to what I am going through.

Glad | 10:34 pm, August 28, 2011 | Link

 

Am I good enough? It seems like a question that I ask myself day in and day out. It is a never ending struggle to gain favor with my own worst critic…myself. But I have learned, once the critic side of me takes a step back, I relax, and just enjoy life again. Self-compassion comes before self-esteem, because we can’t feel good about ourselves until we can stop judging ourselves. Great Post!

Amy | 6:15 pm, August 29, 2011 | Link

 

This article is just encouraging satisfaction with a
less successful person.  Parents - don’t raise your kids
to not be competitive.  What’s going to happen to
them when they’re in the work place and bow out of
any form of competition/negotiations/etc. - they
won’t succeed.  What happens when someone else is
interested in the boy/girl they’re after - they’ll bow
out and won’t succeed.  Competition is good, don’t
promote a society of sissies.

tim | 5:41 am, September 7, 2011 | Link

 

I am attracted to the topic on self-compassion as I used to have a hard time in having compassion towards myself. The external criticism which I receive, sometimes harsh, does not help in this respect.  BTW, I am a Theravadin Buddhist and I can relate to the needs to be compassionate towards all sentient beings including one own self.  I agree that if a person is compassionate towards himself, then healthy self esteem will follow automatically.  With regard to self esteem, it is important to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy ones.

Mulyadi Kurnia | 6:08 am, September 20, 2011 | Link

 

I’m definitely not very self compassionate. It feels like I’m
making excuses if I say “you are x, but it’s just because you
are human like everyone else”

اصالة | 3:37 am, September 22, 2011 | Link

 

Excellent points. Competition is a natural component of all forms of life but when not balanced with cooperation it can be extremely unhealthy to a socially based species such as our own. The way this negatively impacts what we refer to as self-esteem is by leading people to measure themselves in comparison to others. Such a measurement will never give a person a true sense of their own worth and value: there will always be someone better and someone worse. Everything changes, including yourself. You don’t have anything to measure up to but what you have set forth for yourself; worth can’t be measured by comparison with others, it must be discovered through comparison of past self, present self and desired future self. Judgment has little place in a healthy and content mind, whether it is for others or yourself. Labels tell us nothing—they are only generalizations that start our thinking processes, they do not provide the conclusions we seek.

Fyrehed | 9:37 am, September 27, 2011 | Link

 

I think that this article takes a very simplistic approach to things.  A lot of people out there have a lot to be ashamed about.  They are not pulling their own weight and trying to make them feel better about it isn’t going to make things better…just let them live in a state of unrealistic expectations.

Oleoresin Capsicum | 6:54 pm, November 6, 2011 | Link

 

In my opinion, any strategy with a self at the center is doomed. Self only exists in the realm of thought. It has no reality. Only when one steps out of the realm of thought can there be an end to suffering. Thought is the greatest of all criminals.

John Ptacek | 4:01 am, November 19, 2011 | Link

 

I always believed that I am not “better” or “worse”
than others. To be honest, the entire binary
classification of things is what makes people compare
to each other.

Once we accept that things “just are”, without this
kind of classification, we can finally accept things and
ourselves as we are.

From that point, we take control of our own life and
direct it anywhere we like - since there is not better
or worse direction - they are just different directions.

Healthy Trim Reviews | 2:42 pm, November 23, 2011 | Link

 

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Dr. Christine Carter's blog on the science of raising happy kids.

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Jon Kabat-Zinn

Talks by inspiring speakers like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dacher Keltner, and Barbara Fredrickson.

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Greater Good Resources

 
 
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Book of the Week

Making Grateful Kids By Jeffrey Froh and Giacomo Bono Two experts explain how to foster gratitude in children, drawing on new research and compelling real-life stories.

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"It is a great good and a great gift, this Greater Good. I bow to you for your efforts to bring these uplifting and illuminating expressions of humanity, grounded in good science, to the attention of us all."  
Jon Kabat-Zinn

Best-selling author and founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program

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