Why Self-Compassion Beats Self-Confidence

Kristin Wong writes for The New York Times, "We live in a culture that reveres self-confidence and self-assuredness, but as it turns out, there may be a better approach to success and personal development: self-compassion."

Self-compassion can encourage you to acknowledge you humanity, including your flaws and limitations, allowing you to perceive and understand yourself from a more objective and realistic point of view.

Wong quotes Dr. Kristin Neff, an associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Texas, who shares, "Admitting we have flaws just like anyone else keeps us connected to others...and also keeps us from exaggerating our flaws or strengths."

Eric Barker, author of “Barking Up the Wrong Tree" writes, "Unlike overconfidence, which attempts to hide self-doubt and other pessimistic shortcomings, self-compassion accepts them. Self-compassion includes the benefits of confidence without the downside of delusion."

Barker said, “The first and most important thing to do is to notice that voice in your head – that running commentary we all have as we go about our lives...Often that voice is way too critical. You beat yourself up for every perceived mistake. To be more self-compassionate, you need to notice that voice and correct it."

Barker continues, "That doesn’t mean lying to yourself, but rather changing the way you talk to yourself. It may help to imagine the way a loved one would talk to you about your mistakes, then switch that voice out for a more supportive one. Keep in mind, however, that the harsh critic in your head is not your enemy. This is a common misconception that can make things worse, because that voice is a survival mechanism that’s intended to keep you safe."

“Don’t beat yourself up for beating yourself up,” she said. “We just need to learn to make friends with our inner critic.”

Learn more about self-compassion through Wong's original piece in The New York Times here.