God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)
Articles and self-help books are everywhere trying to boost society’s self-esteem. I’ve always cringed, because self-esteem can easily run amuck and become arrogant self-centeredness. Mock self-esteem has also created a segment of our society that believes so much in themselves and whatever they do, without the knowledge and experience to back up their claims. This can lead to depression and despair when reality and rejection inevitably ensue. A healthy self-image is important. So what is the alternative to focusing on self-esteem?
Melody Wilding writings an enlightening article entitled Why Successful People Choose Self-Compassion Over Self-Esteem. Self-Esteem leaves us with few tools for addressing mistakes, failures, and other shortcomings, other than ignoring them. Ms. Wilding affirms another way of developing confidence and personal growth.
Ms. Wilding quotes Dr. Kristin Neff, an Associate Professor and an authority on Self-Compassion at the University of Texas, Austin, who states, “Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings — after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?” When we are able to confront our failings and shortcomings with tenderness and respect, we are able to learn, grow and improve. Self-Esteem alone is not capable of addressing the truth and learning necessary for personal growth and integrity.
Today, think about ways you could benefit from Self-Compassion. At its best, Self-Compassion gets to the place where we are confident of our abilities and the ability to make a positive difference. The way to make that happen is through personal reflection and learning. Think of a personal issue in your life where you could improve. Perhaps it is an anger issue, or impulsiveness, or some other shortcoming. Focus on talking to yourself with kindness and patience. Give yourself enough distance to look at yourself with honesty. Don’t use failure language. Pray for God to give you the wisdom and confidence to learn from your own actions. It is painful at first, but can become more comfortable - and that allows for greater awareness. Begin today by thinking of ways you can be compassionate with yourself. It could improve the rest of your life.