Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Vital Alternative to Self-esteem

According to Dr.Kristin Neff a better pursuit for caregivers is not self-esteem but self-compassion.

What, exactly, is self-compassion? Neff turns to three main Buddhist components: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.

-"Self-kindness refers to the tendency to be caring and understanding with oneself rather than being harshly critical or judgmental.

-Common humanity involves recognizing that all humans are imperfect, fail and make mistakes.

-Mindfulness involves being aware of one’s painful feelings in a clear and balanced manner so that one neither ignores nor obsesses about disliked aspects of oneself or one’s life. Though we can all benefit from practicing self-compassion, Neff sees it as crucial for overburdened, and sometimes underappreciated, caregivers. “Not only will it help to get through difficult situations,” she says, “it will lead to greater happiness and peace of mind.”

A trailer for her book expands upon the perspective:

"The relentless search for high self-esteem has become a virtual religion; and a tyrannical one at that. Our competitive culture tells us we need to be special and above average to feel good about ourselves, but we can’t all be above average at the same time. There is always someone richer, more attractive, or successful than we are. And even when we do manage to feel self-esteem for one golden moment, we can’t hold on to it. Our sense of self-worth bounces around like a ping-pong ball, rising and falling in lock-step with our latest success or failure.

Fortunately, there is an alternative to self-esteem that many psychologists believe is a better and more effective path to happiness: self-compassion."

Via Utne Reader/ Psychology Today