Self-Compassion and Maintaining Self-Confidence
There’s an old saying: “We are our own worst critic.” For many of us, that saying holds true. We “beat ourselves up” over mistakes we’ve made, or thought we’d potentially made, and our self-deprecation can do a real number on our self-esteem at times. However, we’ve all heard about the importance of having compassion for others . . . how about having a little compassion for ourselves as well? Isn’t that important too?
For those among us who, as the saying goes, are their own worst critic, self-compassion is very important. Cutting ourselves a little slack, accepting our flawed condition as mere mortals, can be essential in helping us embrace our abilities and opportunities for success rather than focusing on our real or perceived inabilities and our real or perceived past failures. That is to say that no human is perfect, and we must all accept that we will have imperfections, in order not to let our deviations from perfection so damage our self-confidence that we refrain from trying for goals that we may otherwise be able to accomplish but for our self-doubt.
However, self-compassion needs to be balanced with accountability. Having self-compassion doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t hold ourselves accountable for our errors and shortcomings and make plans to correct or minimize our shortcomings so that we can move forward successfully. We all should take honest stock of ourselves, our strengths, our weaknesses, our successes, and our failures. Where weaknesses are found, we must ask ourselves if these weaknesses can be corrected. For example, if we have insufficient knowledge on a specific topic, can we research the subject and gain the knowledge that we lack? How much time, effort, money, cooperation from others, or other resources would be necessary to correct the weakness? How much difficulty does or could the weakness create? Is the effort to repair the weakness worth it? If the weakness cannot or will not be corrected, can it be minimized? For example, if we struggle to balance home and work demands, can we hire a secretary at work and a nanny at home to help us juggle this tricky balancing act? Once we have performed the honest self-assessment, we should move forward with the plans we’ve created rather than “beating ourselves up” for our identified imperfections. Is it ok for us to feel badly about our shortcomings? Sure. But we should experience the grief or remorse, express any appropriate apologies, and then let go of the negative self-talk and make our plans to move forward more successfully (i.e., by correcting or minimizing our shortcomings).
In sum, balanced self-compassion is an essential skill for us to maintain self-confidence and embrace opportunities for success, both personally and professionally.