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Self-Compassion and Self-Esteem

Self-Compassion and Self-Esteem:
Which one are you operating from?

I think of my brain as an operating system. It has certain software running all the time and occasionally I run into glitches, malfunctions, viruses, and other such "software" failures. One of those "software failures" has to do with how I treat myself, as someone who has PTSD and TBI.  It is worth checking in with your operating system to see where you are most in need of an upgrade. Not all software is meant to run at the same speed, ability, and function forever. The technology markets know this all too well. They are constantly upgrading, changing, improving, and enhancing how technology runs, operates, and functions. We must do the same with how we treat ourselves when we've been injured.

Did you know that self-compassion and self-esteem are not the same thing?


Self-Compassion is related to the exploration of being human 
and learning to accept our "human-ness".

It has three elements:
1. Self-Kindness
2. Common Humanity
3. Mindful Acceptance:


Self-kindness is about being understanding towards yourself, without being critical. Critical thoughts and actions come from a place of negativity. If you want for behaviors to change or improve, they have to come from a place of positive reinforcement.

Common humanity is about rolling with the tough times in your life, recognizing that this is a normal part of being human.  We are all going to experience challenges in our life and we all have moments where we are brought to our knees.  

Mindful acceptance addresses our ability to remain centered and peaceful on the inside when painful thoughts and feelings start bubbling up.  This is different than over-identifying with the painful emotions and feeding them with judgments and criticism.

Self-esteem is very different from self-compassion.
Self-compassion teaches us to honor being human and its' many conditions.
Self-esteem addresses how highly we regard ourselves for what we have achieved, maybe our talents, our social status, as well as, how important or special we feel we are.  

How often we teach children about self-esteem.....but do we ever teach them self-compassion?  We are taught to be strong in the face of adversity, to rise above our challenges, but who teaches you to sit with them and allow them to be present?

This is how we overcome the moral implications of what we've been through.
Don't rise above them with critical words, actions, and feelings. Sit with them, face to face, acknowledge them, allow them to be present, and develop a sense of self-compassion, instead of feeding more self-esteem.

How many times have you said to a child that was feeling down about a disappointment...."But you have so much to be thankful for. Look at all of your talents, your achievements, your abilities? Be grateful for them".
Did this make the child feel better?  
Probably not because achievements do not fulfill our soul. 
Purpose and compassion fulfill our soul.

How many times have you praised a military service member, only to have them shy away from "heroism"?

How many times have you put your hand on a friends back and told them how much they have achieved after losing their job?  Did it make them feel better?


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"Self-esteem has not been proven to support emotional calmness in the midst of distress, but self-compassion has."

Sarah McLean, "Soul Centered"

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