In an article on msnbc.com, Robin Nixon reviews new scientific evidence indicating a link between what is being called ‘self-compassion’ and success.
While high self-esteem is often mentioned as a factor in success, research shows that self-compassion is more closely linked with success than is self esteem. In fact, an overemphasis on self- esteem is sometimes linked with negative traits like narcissism, anxiety and depression.
What is it about self-compassion, rather than self-esteem, that makes us more sucessful? In the article mentioned above Nixon writes, “Self-compassion, as defined by Neff in the academic literature, has three aspects: mindfulness, common humanity and kindness.” It is these aspects, rather than having high self esteem, that seem to make us more likely to succeed.
In reading this I was immediately reminded of a Dahn Yoga workshop known as “Shim Sung.” Fundamentally, Shim Sung develops self compassion by strengthening the conviction that inside each of us there exists a “true self.” The true self is the essential part of the mind unaffected by prejudices and preconceptions, wherein we find a fundamental love and compassion that transcends the boundaries of myself and others. It is this part of the mind that can allow for a greater sense of self-compassion, and ultimately, outward compassion as well.
Compassion cannot be the result of philosophy alone. True compassion comes from recognizing ourselves as fundamentally positive and interconnected beings and as such, allowing ourselves the flexibility to change without losing a basic sense of purpose and passion.
In the end, self esteem can be a fragile power, built upon judgments or wishes that often come into conflict with our real, unpredictable experience of daily life. Self compassion, however, is a more robust system of watching oneself, learning from results, and trying to do better, all with acceptance and love. When we truly see that we are not our thoughts, emotions, and preconceptions, we naturally become more compassionate to ourselves, knowing that at the core we are perfect and beautiful, and that everything else is simply a work in progress.