The Importance of Self-Comprassion to Mental Health

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With the mental health crisis that is currently sweeping the nation and rising to epic proportions, people need to begin making different choices. As defined by Kristin Neff, self-compassion is choosing Self-Kindness rather than Self-Judgement, Common Humanity over Isolation and Mindfulness rather than Over-Identification. Choosing self-compassion can change both the nation and the world like never before. Not only would the world be healthier mentally it would, no doubt, be a nicer way to live.

Studies have revealed that although self-compassion is similar to self-esteem, it effects people differently from a psychological perspective. While self-compassion, which has only been researched extensively in recent past, promotes taking an active stance on extending one’s self self-love. The latter, which has been thrust into the educational systems over the years, contributes to negative epidemics that are taking over the nation’s population through narcissism, bullying, prejudices, and nasty social dynamics. When a person acts or chooses self-compassion rather than looking to self-esteem, he/she is able to relate to themselves kindly and embrace themselves as they are, flaws and all, rather than the constant need to feel better than another, in order to feel good about themselves

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Everyone has that little, yet powerfully loud, critical voice in their head telling them they aren’t quite good enough, handsome or pretty enough, or smart enough. How they choose to deal with it, can be life enhancing or life threatening. Choosing to be as kind, caring and understanding as to a good friend rather than constantly being critical and judgmental makes a huge difference from a mental health perspective. The choice can be difficult for people who have grown up in abusive relationships or have never experienced compassion in their lives. That is why it is so important for individuals to become aware and educated as their first line of defense.

As more research is conducted and information made available, people are able to begin healing through self-compassion rather than remain on the unhealthy treadmill of comparison. The initial choice to be made is when everyone can see and relate their own experiences as a part of a bigger picture and larger experience rather than the abnormal view that isolation causes. Recognizing and accepting the reality that life is difficult and imperfect. The idea that “life is a journey not a destination” speaks volumes. Knowing that your best laid plans can backfire or go wrong in some way, however is not the “be all end all” of life as you know it can be a comfort. Realizing that it’s the imperfections rather than perfections that help people relate and come together in community with one another.

Lastly, Mindfulness is the last thread to the practice of self-compassion. Being aware that suffering is occurring and a person’s ability to simply acknowledge and be with that pain is a step towards experiencing health and healing that comes from self-compassion. Imagine your self-talk being what you would say to a friend in your situation as opposed to going straight into problem solving mode and bringing about the negative and judgmental conversation with the critical voice in your head. This change in behavior can actually reverse the behavioral patterns. Studies have shown that constant self-criticism causes your body to have a higher level cortisol causing stress and onset depression than can lead to suicide in many individuals.

In conclusion, knowing and understanding that you do have a choice and that the choices you make are important in the realm of Mental Health and Wellbeing effecting both yourself and others. Understanding that much of the negativity we face is self-inflicted, let’s imagine how a personal choice to change one’s behavior can have a butterfly effect, for good, in not only the town where you live, or the nation, but around the world as well. Let’s all choose self-compassion for one and all in the circle of life.

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