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Self-Compassion - How to be a Friend to Yourself

Self-compassion means we treat ourselves with the same care and kindness that we would for someone we care for and love.

While we might try to develop interpersonal relationships that offer love, kindness, and affection, a large part of our happiness has to do with our relationship with ourselves. When we make bad decisions, mistakes, hurt others, fail to reach goals, or live up to our expectations, it is easy to fall into the trap of treating ourselves with hostility, devaluation, and criticism.

The essence of self-compassionate behavior is treating ourselves with the same kindness, forgiveness, and acceptance that we would show a friend or small child, particularly when faced with challenging circumstances, mistakes, inadequacies, or when life falls short of self-imposed ideals.

Individuals with greater self-compassion are positively associated with happiness, optimism, coping skills, emotional intelligence, and social connectedness. Rather than feeling isolated by one’s imperfections, the self-compassionate person has a broader, more connected outlook on personal deficiencies and individual difficulties.

As a core component of self-compassion, the sense of common humanity frames the experience of suffering as a part of being human that connects us. Simply put, we are flawed, and feelings of inadequacy and failure are universal. Understanding our shared humanity allows us to recognize that imperfection is the essence of being human and that suffering is a source of connection rather than isolation.

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