The Role Of Self Compassion In Building Self Esteem
Updated: Mar 26
Every day I talk with parents about their daughters and self-esteem. We are all aware of how preoccupied pre-teens and teens are with fitting in with friends. One of the most common and painful scenarios that I encounter is the girl who feels left out of her peer group.
Although this is a typical developmental issue, an unfortunate pattern of negative comparison of self to others can take root. In my experience, this can be traced back to earlier childhood experiences that were held onto and mistakenly translated into a view of self as unworthy. This happens when a girl is already feeling less confident, more dependent on other people’s approval, and less skilled in dealing with the workings of groups. Dysfunctional coping strategies such as the “Inner Critic” are latched onto as a way to anticipate potential criticism and rejection.
I teach that true confidence comes from making friends with all parts of your self—even the less likeable parts. This requires recognizing the voice of the Inner Critic and adopting a new approach of supporting the self in the midst of a challenge. The benefits of this growth in self-awareness and compassion are greater resilience to the inevitable criticisms from others and a greater willingness to trust in self as good enough even when you are feeling vulnerable.
I encourage my clients to remember:
Life is full of awkward moments. Everyone has them.
Awkwardness is not the problem. Judging yourself for feeling awkward and listening to your Inner Critic is the problem.
Recognize your Inner Critic. She always leaves you feeling guilty, ashamed or yucky about yourself. Tell her to take a break!
Feeling upset about a challenge is normal. Remember you are a good person no matter what.
Be kind and patient with yourself. Be your own best friend.
Seek comfort from supportive others when you need it.
Part of growing includes experiences that don’t feel comfortable and easy.
You will be successful and happy in your life if you encourage yourself. This is what builds your confidence so that you can persevere, especially in the areas that are a struggle.
Originally published on The Healthy Planet, August 1st, 2015.