Health and Wellness: Self-Compassion

Ann Cochran - Dallas County Health Department
Special to Dallas County News and Perry Chief

What is self-compassion? Maybe it’s better to start with what it is not. Self-compassion is not feeling sorry for yourself, or endlessly pampering yourself and self-compassion isn’t an excuse for poor behavior or repeating the same mistakes.

Interestingly, we’re taught to show compassion to others, but not to ourselves. Self-compassion includes extending kindness to yourself with your own thoughts. Rather than criticizing yourself for making an error, for not being the best, for being merely human, give yourself the same leeway you give others.

Author Joyce Meyer explains that worry, doubt and feelings of condemnation are attacks on the mind. Repeatedly thinking the same thoughts will form habits and actually changes neural pathways in our brains. Reflect on whether your negative repetitive thoughts are true, or if thinking them is just a habit.

Self-compassion is a realistic recognition of your own flaws minus self-shaming. It’s normal and healthy to feel guilty about committing a wrong action. But shame is focused on the value of yourself as a person, rather than the act. You can be compassionate to yourself by regretting an action and still believing you have worth as a person.