Myths, Misperceptions or Misgivings About Self-Compassion

When I am working with clients during coaching/mentoring or events, one of the areas that often comes up is the harshness of our inner critic or voice inside our head. We can be so judgemental towards ourselves, with thoughts (or cognitive distortions) such as –

  • “I’m not good enough”
  • “I”m worthless”
  • “I’m too fat”
  • “I’m not fit enough”
  • “I could never do that”
  • “I’m not smart enough”
  • and I could go on….


I wonder what the true cost of this constant comparison and self-judgement is?

  • fear?
  • burnout?
  • constant striving for perfection?
  • broken relationships and/or divorce?
  • insecurity and lack of confidence?
  • physical and mental health challenges?
  • unfulfilled dreams?
  • not sharing our gifts and talents?


Is there another way?

Yes, there is and one way is through mindful self-compassion.


What is Mindful Self-Compassion?

Christopher Germer in his book The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions refers to self-compassion as “… simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others.” 

In her book Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, Dr Kristin Neff refers to self compassion as having three components –

  1. Self-kindness – being gentle and understanding with ourselves rather than harshly critical and judgmental.  
  2. Common humanity – feeling connected with others in the experience of life rather than feeling isolated and alienated by our suffering (i.e. experiencing our imperfections). 
  3. Mindfulness – that we hold our experience in balanced awareness, rather than ignoring our pain and exaggerating it.

Also, in the The Force of Kindness, Sharon Salzberg wrote – “this kind of compulsive concern with “I, me and mine” isn’t the same as loving ourselves… Loving ourselves points us to capacities of resilience, compassion and understanding within that are simply part of being alive.”


After reading those definitions, it seems easy enough, right? Wrong – well for many people anyway, particularly women. Why are do we find it so hard to show compassion towards ourselves? Maybe the following myths about self-compassion from Dr Neff’s book Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself can help us change our perceptions around self-compassion…


Myths or Misperceptions About Self-Compassion

Myth: “If I’m too self-compassionate, won’t I just be lazy and selfish?”

Reality: Despite being socially acceptable, self-criticism is not a helpful strategy to helping us fulfil our potential. It can actually do the cause up to feel insecure and inadequate.


Myth: “I am not worthy of compassion.”

Reality: Everyone is worthy of compassion – as we have all made mistakes, no one is perfect.


Myth: Self-compassion is just a form of self-pity or self-indulgence.

Reality: Self-compassion means I think my problems are also important and worthy of being attended to as well as your problems. Self-compassion is about being with our challenges and seeing them as they are not numbing them or pushing them away, which is more self-indulgent.


Myth: We have to earn the right for compassion.

Reality: According to the Dalai Lama, “Human beings by nature want happiness and do not want suffering. With that everyone tries to achieve happiness and tries to get rid of suffering, and everyone has a basic right to do this.. Basically, from the viewpoint of real human value, we are all the same.”


Myth: Self-criticism is an effective motivation strategy 

Reality: self-criticism is not a helpful strategy to feel better despite it being socially acceptable. In fact, it can cause you to feel insecure and inadequate.


If you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards freedom and opening your heartwhy not join our Toolkit or click here to find out more about the 8-week Mindful Self-Compassion course or you may like to join the 4-week Untangling Self-Compassion course.

If you don’t live on the Gold Coast, we can also support you to create self-compassion in our one-to-one-mentoring sessions. Click here to find out more.


References –

Germer, C. (2009). The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and EmotionsNew York: Guilford Press.

Neff, K. (2011). Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself. New York, USA: HarperCollins Publishers.


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