Self-compassion is the ability to turn understanding, acceptance, and love inward.
Compassion is the ability to show empathy, love, and concern to people who are suffering. However, many otherwise very compassionate people struggle to show this same compassion to themselves. Self-compassion is the ability to accept oneself, particularly in the face of failure. Self-compassion is sometimes presented as an alternative to self-esteem. While self-esteem focuses on favorable self-evaluation, particularly for achievements, self-compassion is a form of self-acceptance even in the face of failure. A person who scores high on measures of self-compassion might accept his or her failures without defensiveness or justification, and recognize that he or she is a person deserving of love and acceptance.
A lack of self-compassion can play a major role in mental health problems. For example, people going through divorce might beat themselves up over their failures in marriage and feel that undeserving of a second chance or of healing. Self-compassion, however, allows people to accept their failures, move past them, and try again.
Last updated: 04-01-2015