Self Compassion and Self-Esteem: At odds with each other.

Esteem Driven Engine

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Hi everyone   

Most people believe that they need stern self talk to get things done in life. It’s the notion that we need to be constantly pushed so that we do our best work and achieve greatness. Many of us subscribe to idea that pressure brings out the best in us so we internalise the language of coercion and carry it with us always. You can’t be too “soft” on your self or you will become “lazy”. Lots of you will recognise this type of guilt trip self talk that is full of commands like “should, shouldn’t, have to and got to”.    

Funny thing is that it seems to be a common human condition. Stress and pressure to ‘get up there’, ‘make a stand’, ‘be noticed’ and become the ‘king of the castle’. Self-esteem is about comparing your self to others and making sure that you can feel good about yourself knowing that you have climbed the ladder of success. The proof of the climb is that there are people worse off than you.   

Problem with self-esteem type of thinking is that there is always someone better off as well.  So the pressure continues because you can never really be satisfied that you have done enough. There is always more to be done. This is why self-esteem is linked to feelings of anxiety and can create a focus on the self that may become distorted. Those with an inflated sense of self-esteem can become quite arrogant and feel like the world is beneath them. Those with a poor sense of self-esteem can never measure up and can become depressed and anxious. Either way there is a sense of detachment from the rest of humanity. A sense that we are on our own.   

Self compassion however, fosters a sense of connectedness to the rest of humanity and is based on being kind to the self. The sense of connectedness with the world comes from an understanding that we are all in the same boat, are all making the same mistakes and are all enjoying happiness over similar achievements. Self compassion allows people to relax and do the things that they know will bring happiness to their lives while creating a sense of fulfillment. An understanding of your own humanity will free you up and take the anxiety of making mistakes away. People do just as much when they are relaxed and well. It is much easier to have fun and be creative in a relaxed space.  A head that is taunted by commands is no fun, neither is anxiety that one has not done enough and feelings of guilt for failures. 

So be kind to your self and don’t be too down when you make mistakes. We have all made mistakes.  It is all part of being human.  

Take Care  

Therapy Monkey.   



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