Stress: is kindness more effective than confidence?

Press forgiveness rather than punishing yourself. (pic courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/stuartmiles)

Press forgiveness rather than punishing yourself. (pic courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/stuartmiles)

Ever found yourself finding reasons to beat yourself up, believing yourself to be at fault, and wishing you could be a better person? If that’s a familiar (or daily) situation, then research is increasingly seeking to prove that being kind to yourself is far more effective than finding mantras for your self-esteem.

Being kinder to yourself, and finding more compassion for your faults and those of others, could help you deal more effectively with the daily stressors of life. That’s the main finding of research from Brandeis University on self-compassion.

The long-standing view has been that self-esteem is the cure-all, but the new view is that self-compassion could be far more effective in helping us cope with the stresses that bear down on us all.

Self-compassion is the ability to forgive yourself for stuff you’ve done, not blaming yourself or taking more responsibility than you should, and letting it go rather than dwelling on it. In other words, it’s the ability to cut yourself some slack.

The researchers asked people to rank their agreement to statements such as, “I try to be understanding and patient toward aspects of my personality I do not like” and “I’m disapproving and judgmental about my own flaws and inadequacies”. Resulting stress tests were recorded.

Tests showed that people with low self-compassion carried their stress from the day before into today, which made them more vulnerable to the effects of stress.

The researchers said: “It is easy for stress to build over time, and a seemingly small daily stressor, such as traffic, can impact a person’s health if they don’t have the right strategies to deal with it.”

My take on this? Forgive yourself for stuff outside your control – where possible. Beating yourself up in areas that have nothing to do with you, or have a detrimental effect, are to be avoided. This way of being can have its roots in childhood, and how you had to take care of a parent as a child.

For support and to work on forgiveness, call 07956 823501 or email davanticounselling.com

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