Below you will see Part 2 of the Self-Esteem series I started last week. If you didn’t get a chance to read Part 1 here it is: Self Esteem: What is it? (Part 1) then come back to read Part 2.
Higher levels of self-esteem can be linked to increased life satisfaction and better mental and physical health. How can people raise their levels of self-esteem? Believe it or not it begins with self-compassion.
Kristin Neff, psychologist and self-compassion researcher, explains “Compassion…presupposes the recognition and clear seeing of suffering. It entails feelings of kindness, care and understanding for people who are in pain. Compassion involves recognizing the shared human condition. Self-compassion has exactly the same qualities – it is just compassion turned inward.”
Self-compassion is about acceptance. Accepting parts of yourself increases self-knowledge and self-awareness. Often clients react to old messages or “voices” in their heads that are not their own – it could be the voice of a parent or teacher or partner that gets stuck in their head and is allowed to replay itself over and over again.
Helping a client to understand where the message comes from and that they do not have to listen to it or allow it to continue to shame them is powerful in helping the person move forward and toward self-compassion. I often have clients start journal which is a great way to write about their inner critic and helps them think of the critic as separate from the self. You can dump all the negative thoughts and feelings out on paper. We can then reflect back on the writing to see what the person was feeling and in relation to what life situation. It is about perspective for the client.
Awareness is the first step in order to move forward.