In our competitive society, it is all too easy to compare yourself to others and feel that your worth is dependent on attaining a certain level of personal perfection. This constant effort to become above average in all things can be exhausting and futile. Everybody in the world cannot be above average and even being above average does not guarantee happiness.
Your own opinion of yourself can be a significant source of stress within your life. When you feel you are less than, you feel you fail to measure up, you feel unworthy of your accomplishments—then life becomes a struggle. Your efforts to live up to your personal view of perfection can create physical symptoms such as muscular tension and can lead to anger, anxiety, and depression.
Researcher Kristin Neff of the University of Texas has found that seeking to build your self-esteem is a “trickster trap” that leads to stress and unhappiness. However, having compassion for your self and for others is a shorter, easier road to lasting happiness and prolonged wellbeing. Self-compassion can reduce feelings of low-self worth, the envy of others, and depression that stems from an overly self-critical mindset. It acknowledges your strengths and provides acceptances of your short-comings and failures.
Self-compassion is a habit of thought and action. The best way to acquire any new habit through practice. Perform the self-compassionate exercise below and continue to do so to feel the lasting effects that come from practicing self-compassion.
Create your own mantra, in your own words, covering these three points:
- I am suffering________________________________________________________
- Suffering is inevitable__________________________________________________
- I can comfort myself___________________________________________________