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How to Make Peace With Your Inner Critic (Part II)

28 April 2018

L+W Blog

Theme: Self-Kindness vs. Self-Judgment

How to Make Peace With Your Inner Critic (Part II)

CHOOSE SELF-COMPASSION OVER SELF-ESTEEM

Self-esteem is a Western social construct that takes for granted your intrinsic value as a human being. When you prioritize self-esteem, your worth as a human being is dependent on external appraisals of traits that you may possess, some of which you may have no control over (pretty, smart, talented, etc.).

Your self-esteem at the present moment may be based on your most recent experience of success or failure. Self-esteem constantly fluctuates in response to who you believe you are in the present moment, which is based on your successful or unsuccessful navigation of the external world.

Unlike self-esteem, self-compassion is not contingent on achievement, success, or any other “proof” that deems you worthy of your own love and acceptance.

Instead, self-compassion is guided by the belief that being alive in the here-and-now makes you inherently worthy of love, warmth, and care in order to decrease suffering or, at the very least, to make suffering more manageable.

Self-compassion encourages you to self-care instead of self-evaluate.

Self-compassion asks of you to bear witness to your suffering instead of ignoring, distorting, or hiding personal shortcomings.

Self-compassion shows you that being “special” or “standing out” is not a prerequisite for feeling worthy.

Self-compassion provides a steady and stable sense of self-worth that helps you navigate your external world from a loving, truth-honoring perspective. It is finding a connection to your loving inner parent or compassionate witness that engages your proactive capacities to cope with suffering and even (dare I say it) THRIVE.

DON’T JUST TAKE MY WORD FOR IT

Research indicates that when you compare self-compassion and self-esteem, self-compassion is associated with greater emotional resilience, more accurate self-concepts, more caring relationship behavior, as well as less narcissism and reactive anger.

WHAT DOES THE BODY HAVE TO DO WITH IT?

Everything. Your body is the container of YOU that holds you up and hugs you into being. Your body creates, contains, and reacts to all the thoughts, emotions, and sensations that you experience. The relationship that you have with your body mirrors the relationship you have with YOU. Especially in a culture in which appearance plays a central role in the development of self-esteem, the body is used and abused to fit into socially constructed physical and psychological molds of "ideals."

It may be difficult to bear witness to your thoughts and emotions, as these are often so automatic and subtle that they are not easily detectable in the here-and-now. But the way you behave toward your body is a tangible manifestation of your relationship to yourself. You take specific actions throughout the day such as eating, drinking, sleeping, going to the bathroom, having sex, etc. These actions and the ways in which you engage with them are either aligned or misaligned with your body’s needs. Unfortunately, these needs can be neglected, abused, or distorted so that unhealthy means are used to self-soothe or self-regulate when confronted suffering. We may overeat, starve ourselves, abuse drugs and alcohol, cut ourselves, have unprotected sex, and put our bodies in other situations that risk our health and well-being.

Sofia Vasilakou (2018)

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