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The Common Sense of Choosing Self-Compassion


Having self-compassion may seem a lofty ideal, but it is actually very practical.

It is the decision to give yourself what all people need to thrive: the warmth of kindness, acceptance of feelings and emotions, and the light of awareness.

You show compassion to yourself not because you are deserving but because this is what you need. It is a common-sense, practical choice.

The Greenhouse Effect

As a greenhouse provides an environment where plants can heal and grow, self-compassion creates an atmosphere that nurtures our personal evolution. It holds us gently where we are, permits us to acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses, and when the time is right it allows change. It provides an opportunity to grow just as a greenhouse gives a fern or pot of roses the opportunity to mature into itself.

Though self-compassion does not fix problems or flaws, it does require us to stop subjecting ourselves to punishing conditions. Harsh criticism and the feelings that follow – guilt and shame – are not practical. They do not foster human healing or growth.

More Compassion Commons Sense

If you need more reasons to be self-compassionate, here are a few:

  • Self-compassion is steady and dependable. It does not rely on performance, accomplishment, or being special. It only depends on being human, which you are.
  • People who are self-compassionate tend to be less self-conscious and nervous in social situations; they are more resilient if something goes wrong or when a personal weakness is exposed.
  • Self-compassion fosters a sense of interconnectedness. To have compassion for others or ourselves means we acknowledge our humanity – and with it humanity’s shared beauty and failings.
  • People who are self-supportive need less positive reinforcement from others, cultivating healthy self-reliance and confidence. The self-compassionate are also better able to handle criticism from others – constructive or negative – when it comes their way.
  • If your sense of worth is related to a perception of your status, a threat to your status will create emotional turmoil. Self-compassion, because it is not tied to status, helps people maintain emotional equilibrium while surfing the ups and downs of life.

Use the Tools that Work

If you are struggling with emotional pain or symptoms of an eating disorder, it makes sense to do things that effectively reduce suffering. Self-compassion is a self-help tool that works.

If you believe that you are deserving of compassion, that is wonderful. But the belief is unnecessary. You can treat yourself kindly because you choose to, because it helps you feel and do better. It takes practice to make compassion a habit, but every self-kindness is a step forward, and nothing can erase it. If we want a plant to thrive, we give it the conditions it needs to do so – and we can do the same for ourselves.