Self-compassion is a positive self-view that involves relating to oneself with kindness and acceptance in times of difficulty. Rather than criticizing, you look at your situation with compassion. Practicing self-compassion doesn’t have to be hard, it’s just a matter of making small shifts in thinking.

What is Self-Compassion and How Can It Increase Self-Esteem?

Practicing self-compassion can increase your self-esteem and health. Self-compassion is different from self-esteem but both are needed to develop a strong sense of self-worth. Self-esteem is how we see ourselves and what we think about ourselves, self-compassion is more about how we treat ourselves.

3 Essential Pieces to Self-Compassion to Increase Self-Esteem:

1.  Being kind to one’s self

This means understanding, not punishing yourself. What would you say to a friend or loved one in your position? It involves comforting yourself.

2.  Sense of common humanity

We are all human and make mistakes; no one is perfect, neither am I. Self-compassion involves recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience – something that we all go through rather than being something that happens to “me” alone, even though it sometimes feels that way.

3.  Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the energy of being aware and awake to the present moment; having awareness of your feelings and thoughts in the moment. To be mindful is to be truly alive, present and at one with those around you and with what you are doing. We bring our body and mind into harmony while we wash the dishes, drive the car or take our morning shower.

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Research on self-compassion shows that people who are compassionate to themselves are much less likely to be depressed, anxious, and stressed. They are much more likely to be happy, resilient, healthy and optimistic about their future; they have better mental health. Leading researcher in self-compassion and 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 book Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind. Neff says that people may think that being kind to yourself makes you less motivated. Actually the opposite is true. The harder you are on yourself the more your body attacks yourself, both mentally and physically.

This is explained in this fantastic TED talk video:

10 Simple Ways to Start Practicing Self-Compassion to Increase Self-Esteem

  1. Hug yourself or someone you love (it releases oxytocin the chemical that makes you feel connected and loved).
  2. Get a massage or practice self-care.
  3. Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can in this very moment.
  4. Talk to yourself like you would to a young child or pet when you’ve made a mistake.
  5. Spend time with people who are supportive and kind to you.
  6. Say no to others when you need to take care of yourself or feel like you are getting sick.
  7. Ask for company to come over if you are feeling lonely.
  8. Eat warm foods, it activates a feeling of comfort (hot tea or warm milk also work).
  9. Tell yourself that you are loved.
  10. Call a friend or family member who is supportive to help you see another side of the situation if you are in a crisis or stuck in a negative thinking cycle.

Remember, you more than anyone deserves kindness and respect. Self-compassion starts with YOU!