self-compassion vs. self-esteem


With our GirlTip posting a day late this week, it's a good thing our theme is self-compassion! But what does that mean? We use the word compassion often, but when you put that little word "self" in front of it, something changes. Tweens, teens and adults alike may find it easier to show compassion to others than to themselves. In fact, we're often taught to be kind, respectful, generous, forgiving and accepting of others, but how many times have we been taught to practice those things with ourselves?

Self-compassion may sound like self-esteem, but there are several signficant ways in which they're different. Self-esteem is more about how we feel about ourselves when we accomplish something, meet some external standard, or get recognized for something we "do." Self-compassion is a practice of showing ourselves love, kindess, respect, forgiveness and acceptance for our whole selves, even when we make a mistake. Self-compassion doesn't mean letting ourselves off the hook when we mess up or hurt someone. The result is actually the opposite! When we're self-compassionate, we're better able to recognize our mistakes, take ownership of them, make amends, learn from them and move forward! 

Think about it like this. If we're so caught up in beating ourselves up for a mistake, we may choose one of several paths: Get defensive and prickly like a porcupine without taking responsibility or feel horrible about ourselves and either hide out in shame or grovel to the person we've offended and end up making ourselves (and them) feel worse. Ouch.

Self-compassion gives us the tools to choose a different way to be with ourselves. It frees us from the self-judgment that can wreck our sense of self-worth. Like most things, self-compassion is an ongoing practice. Just like we learned to share in kindergarten, we have to learn to treat ourselves with loving kindness. How can you show yourself some kindness this week?

For more wonderful background on self-compassion, visit our acclaimed local trailblazer, Dr. Kristin Neff's website at

I am free from self-judgment and full of self-compassion