Self-confidence is great. Do you know what’s better? Self-compassion!
What’s wrong with self-confidence?
Self-confidence is great. It strengthens us in our values, protects us from our cruel inner critiques and from the often merciless outside feedbacks.
How could this be bad for you? One of the cornerstones of our performance-oriented, individualistic Western value system is self-confidence and the logic that if you believe you are great then with time others will believe you are great too and your life will be wonderful.
But one of the perils of high self-confidence is that it doesn’t allow much space for error. Because if you make an error then maybe you are not that great after all and the whole concept fails. Others will recognize and your whole ideal life goes down the sink.
The other problem stems from your self-confidence holding you back from reflecting on and improving at your weak areas. To restore your self-confidence you must clean up the traces of your error at once and return back to your hard-built self image. Your self-confidence is fragile and often lets you down when you need it most: when you make a mistake.
Yeah sure, these are feelings but what is with rationality? Because in whom there is huge self-confidence strives. But it doesn’t seem so. Research finds that high self-confidence is not a good predictor of success or outstanding performance.
Let me introduce you to self-compassion
Self-compassion is an expression used in the English-language academic literature. It might seem cheesy but according to latest research it is the key ingredient in delivering your full potential.
Dr. Kristin Neff, one of the areas most promiment researchers differentiates three components of self-compassion:
It is the ability to turn to yourself with understanding and empathy instead of self-rebuke after you make a mistake. You can imagine it as turning down the volume on your inner critique and turning up the volume of your best friend’s voice in your head.
That is we are not alone in our weaknesses. Let me put it this way: always remember that other people have difficulties too even though their Instagram account may suggest otherwise.
Being present in what is happening in our lives. Live through difficulties but not letting them drag you down more than necessary and trying to measure them according to their size and impact. You might end up having less “this is the end of the World” moments. You can read more about mindfulness here on my blog.
Three easy steps but why do they matter?
We can agree that based on the above it’s a nice feeling to have self-compession and it maybe does not come as a surprise that thanks to these you become happier, more optimistic and decrease your inclination for anxiety and depression.
What about success? I have news for you. You’ll blow it as we all do sometimes. Even the most successful of us. Those who look at their mistakes with compassion are more motivated to improve their weaknesses and bounce back from their failures. Since you’re going to stumble sometimes anyway it can come in handy if you can bounce back quickly, right?
You are imperfectly perfect!
Your self love based on self-confidence is conditional: if I am enough for my aspirational self, if I reach my next goal then I deserve recognition. On the contrary self-compassion is fueled by your self love for your stumbling, imperfectly perfect self. It doesn’t mean you give excuses for yourself for taking responsibility for your mistakes or you don’t set ambitious goals. It’s much more about how you relate to yourself when you come across difficulties on the way to your goals. With compassion, openness and ready to grow.