Developing self-compassion: why it’s so important for us!

develop self-love

Self-compassion is a term that has been around for a long time. Since 2015, it has been heavily influenced and brought to attention by Kristin Neff. There are numerous training programs and workshops on this topic. The English version is called Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC for short). Translated it means approximately "attentive self-compassion".

But what is self-compassion?? What does it "get" you? And how can you develop it? We address all these questions in this article.

What is self-compassion?

Self-compassion and compassion are comparable. The difference is in whom you show the compassion to. With compassion, it is others and their mistakes that you sympathize with. With self-compassion, it’s you.

So that means that if you don’t have it easy, that you have understanding and kindness for yourself. You do not punish yourself for your mistakes. You do not condemn yourself for your weakness, but you treat yourself as you would a good friend. You strengthen your back. They tell themselves that it will be fine. You just have compassion for yourself – self-compassion!

This has nothing to do with vanity or arrogance. Vanity describes people who only care about their appearance. Arrogance makes people see themselves as infallible. With self-compassion you take care of your body and soul and you don’t ignore your faults, but accept them. You learn to learn from mistakes with forbearance and patience, not with criticism and punishment.

Is self-compassion the same as self-pity?

No, by no means.

Self-pity means that you lose yourself in your own problems and mistakes. With self-pity you only think about yourself, you don’t care about others. Self-compassion makes you feel lonelier and usually makes you feel worse.

Self-pity does not help you distance yourself from the situation and look at it in a meaningful way. Overcoming self-pity is very important for our psyche:

How to recognize self-rejection?

Most people know them, the inner voice that always criticizes. That always tells them they are not good enough, they can’t do it, nobody likes them. That’s self-rejection.

Pretty much always this voice is born in childhood. You have probably often heard from your parents that there is something wrong with you. Sentences (or similar) like "You are lazy.", "There are always problems with you.", "What are you acting like?" you have probably heard many times.

These statements cultivate inner self-criticism and self-rejection.

Since children are very malleable and are quickly imprinted, such statements are devastating. Children internalize these phrases and believe that there is something wrong with them. And that it is right to be punished for it.

Through this acceptance the self-rejection is seen as correct. The adult then takes on the punishment himself – precisely in the form of self-rejection. This treatment of oneself is not questioned. The fact that this negativity comes from parents is not recognized.

Nevertheless, understand that this scathing and general criticism is not correct. It is not justified. You were not given time and patience as a child to find your way in the world. Kids don’t know how the adult world works. They first have to learn what to expect. You must be allowed to be children.

This is how the belief that you are not worthy of being loved comes about. That without punishment there is no development. That you have to constantly put a stop to this "bad person" that you believe is dormant in you through pain.

Self-rejection is useless

But what is the use of this self-rejection and -punishment? Have you become perfect as a result? Do not make mistakes through it?

Of course not. You are still making mistakes and probably chasing an ideal image.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone! This happens to a lot of people. Many people believe that there is something wrong with them and that no one likes them.

Many people run after an unattainable ideal or give up and are just depressed. They don’t realize what’s wrong with them, they just know it is – because it’s been drilled into them.

So: Self-punishment and self-loathing do not make you a better person!

How to develop self-compassion?

How to develop self-compassion

One thing in advance: developing self-compassion is not easy and takes a lot of time. Give yourself this time, no master fell from the sky. The following steps can help you.

1. First step: Recognize the inner critical voice and learn not to live by it. Try to realize that this constant self-criticism serves no purpose for you. That this review didn’t get you anywhere. Our own standards are important, not those of our parents.

2. Second step: What does self-criticism involve? Question it! When you hear: "You can’t do anything right." then ask yourself: Is it really true?? No, because no one does everything wrong all the time. Tell yourself that sometimes you will make mistakes, but that is normal. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. There is no need to be ashamed and condemned for one’s mistakes. To err is human.

3. Third step: Consider: would you talk the way you talk to yourself to a good friend or one of your loved ones?? Would you give such harsh criticism? In all probability not. You would forgive him/her the mistakes or encourage him/her when he/she is depressed. You would explain to him/her what he/she is good at when he/she says he/she can’t do anything right. Think of yourself as if you were your best friend. Be nice to yourself!

Warning: the inner voice of self-loathing will speak up if you are nice to yourself. She will tell you that this way you will become effeminate and will not evolve. That you will never be good enough for anyone. That no one will love you like this. Do not believe all this!

Will I continue to develop?

You think you can’t develop without punishment? Quite the opposite!

Even if you accept your mistakes and forgive yourself, you can still learn from them – if that’s what you want to do.

Always look closely at who is criticizing the mistake. The values of your parents or yourself.

In the first case, remember that you make the decisions in your life about what is right and wrong. Accept and forgive yourself for your mistake. Resolve not to judge yourself for the mistake in the future.

In the latter case, accept the mistake anyway, but think about what you can do better in the future.

Without acceptance further development is not possible. If you only punish yourself for your mistakes, you will run away from you. Then they will not deal with you. Therefore no further development will happen.

Exercises for self-compassion

Developing self-compassion and self-love is a difficult process that takes a lot of practice. Don’t let up, but also be patient with yourself!

Here are a few simple exercises:

Look in the mirror and say to yourself, "I love/like you!"

Observe how it makes you feel. Do you feel good or bad? Does it make you happy? Be ashamed of yourself? If you feel sick? Can you say this to yourself?

This simple test will help you figure out how you’re feeling. If you are fine with it, then you have compassion and love for yourself. If not, then it is important that you work on it.

Say to yourself daily (even in front of the mirror):

  • "Making mistakes is normal and human." Smile to yourself as you do this.
  • "Great to see you!"
  • When you are faced with a difficult task: "You can do it!"
  • When you have done something well: "You did that well!"
  • If you are going through difficult times, "You’ll figure it out! You will find a solution!"

Do not stop doing it! It is important, especially at the beginning of the journey, to remind yourself daily to love yourself. The inner critical voice will fiercely try to suppress this path.

Eventually, these exercises will become the norm and you won’t have to actively think about them anymore. Take your time with it! Allow yourself time to do this! It may take months or years for these things to feel normal.

What does self-compassion do for me?

Having self-compassion has some benefits.

By liking yourself and not needing outside reassurance, there are a number of things that will be easier for you as a result. You can more easily forgive yourself for your mistakes, because you are convinced that there is nothing wrong with you. Criticism and rejection from others doesn’t completely devastate you and you can handle it better. Also, don’t feel constantly pressured to improve everything about you.

Also, self-compassion has good effects on your relationships.

You can be happy for others without being envious. Because you know that you do not have to envy others. You are good the way you are.

If you know how to forgive yourself, you’ll know how to do the same for others. You can forgive mistakes more easily and are more forgiving with others. This is also good for you, because it makes you less upset with others.

These are just a few benefits that self-compassion has for you. Of course, you will generally feel better and be more relaxed if you love and accept yourself.

Not being afraid of help

If, despite your best efforts, you are unable to accept yourself more, there is no shame in seeking help. After all, sometimes in our lives we need help to cope with something.

So it is perfectly normal if you feel that you need professional help for your problem with yourself. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help!


Self-compassion is not only good for yourself, but also for others. It describes treating yourself like a good friend and refraining from self-rejection. Developing self-compassion is not easy and takes a lot of time and patience. Daily practice is important for this.

Don’t let up, because as with everything in life, only practice makes perfect!

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