Many people fear that self-compassion is really just a form of self-pity. In fact, self-compassion is an antidote to self-pity. While self-pity says “poor me,” selfcompassion recognizes that life is hard for everyone. Research shows that selfcompassionate people are more likely to engage in perspective taking, rather than focusing on their own distress. They are also less likely to ruminate on how bad things are, which is one of the reasons self-compassionate people have better mental health. When we are self-compassionate, we remember that everyone suffers from time to time (common humanity), and we don’t exaggerate the extent of our struggles (mindfulness). Self-compassion is not a “woe is me” attitude.
“Self-compassion is for wimps. I have to be tough and strong to get through my life.”
Another big fear is that self-compassion will make us weak and vulnerable. In fact, self-compassion is a reliable source of inner strength that confers courage and enhances resilience when we’re faced with difficulties. Research shows selfcompassionate people are better able to cope with tough situations like divorce, trauma, or chronic pain.
“I need to think more about other people, not myself. Being self-compassionate is way too selfish and self-focused.”
Some worry that by being self-compassionate rather than just focusing on being compassionate to others, they will become self-centered or selfish. However, giving compassion to ourselves actually enables us to give more to others in relationships. Research shows self-compassionate people tend to be more caring and supportive in romantic relationships, are more likely to compromise in relationship conflicts, and are more compassionate and forgiving toward others.