The relentless pursuit of high self-esteem has become a virtual religion - and a tyrannical one at that. Our ultracompetitive culture tells us we need to be constantly above average to feel good about ourselves, but there is always someone more attractive, successful, or intelligent than we are. And even when we do manage to grab hold of high self-esteem for a brief moment, we can't seem to keep it. Our sense of self-worth goes up and down like a ping-pong ball, rising and falling in lockstep with our latest success or failure.
"Learning self-compassion is transforming my life."
Why does it feel so natural to be compassionate and kind to those we care about - yet so hard to treat ourselves the same way? "Our culture teaches us to use self-criticism for motivation and to build self-esteem by constantly measuring ourselves against everyone else," says Dr. Kristin Neff. "We need to re-learn the essential skill of being genuinely nurturing and supportive toward ourselves."
Over the past decade, an overwhelming body of research has shown self-compassion to be key to good psychological and physical health. Whether you wish to reduce stress, develop healthy habits for exercise or diet, unlock your creativity, or even deal with serious conditions such as depression or addiction, a strong sense of self-compassion is an essential ingredient for success. Best of all, self-compassion is a skill that can be learned.