Barriers to Self-Compassion

One of the most difficult things about self-compassion, is that most of us have never learned how to be compassionate to ourselves. However, the more we practice, the more we will turn to self-compassion in moments of suffering, instead of self-criticism, or judgement.

Sometimes when people think of “self-compassion”, it can be confused with beliefs like, “It’s the same as pitying myself”, or that it might be “soft” or “weak”. Self-compassion is also not the same as disregarding or ignoring what we are less good at, or what we struggle with, or saying “I am the best” or “I’m better than others”. We can show ourselves and others compassion, whilst still acknowledging and learning from mistakes.

Others might believe, “If I’m kind to myself, I’ll just be lazy”, or perhaps “criticising myself, telling myself off, that’s what really motivates me.” This can make us think that being self-compassionate would be unhelpful or stop us from moving forward in our lives. However, these beliefs are often connected with setting yourself high standards or putting pressure on yourself to be “perfect.” Whilst this might mean we “get things done”, we can also push ourselves too hard, which can be damaging to our physical and emotional wellbeing, creating more fatigue and pain. If we are then unable to meet these high standards, we may criticise yourself for this, for example saying, “You’re so stupid” or “You’re not good enough”, which only adds to suffering.