But what about performance? Self-compassion may feel good, but aren’t the people who are harder on themselves, who are driven to always be the best, the ones who are ultimately more likely to succeed?

Self-esteem has a strong relation to happiness. Although the research has not clearly established causation, we are persuaded that high self-esteem does lead to greater happiness. Low self-esteem is more likely than high to lead to depression under some circumstances. Some studies support the buffer hypothesis, which is that high self-esteem mitigates the effects of stress, but other studies come to the opposite conclusion, indicating that the negative effects of low self-esteem are mainly felt in good times. Still others find that high self-esteem leads to happier outcomes regardless of stress or other circumstances.

Research on high self-esteem have come to the troubling conclusion that it is not all it’s cracked up to be. High self-esteem does not predict better performance or greater success. And though people with high self-esteem do think they’re more successful, objectively, they are not. High self-esteem does not make you a more effective leader, a more appealing lover, more likely to lead a healthy lifestyle, or more attractive and compelling in an interview.

High self-esteem does not prevent children from smoking, drinking, taking drugs, or engaging in early sex. If anything, high self-esteem fosters experimentation, which may increase early sexual activity or drinking, but in general effects of self-esteem are negligible. One important exception is that high self-esteem reduces the chances of bulimia in females.

SELF COMPASSION

Overall, the benefits of high self-esteem fall into two categories: enhanced initiative and pleasant feelings. We have not found evidence that boosting self-esteem (by therapeutic interventions in school programs) causes benefits. The findings do not support continued widespread efforts to boost self-esteem in the hope that it will by itself foster improved outcomes. In view of the heterogeneity of high self-esteem, indiscriminate praise might just as easily promote narcissism, with its less desirable consequences. Instead, we recommend using praise to boost self-esteem as a reward for socially desirable behaviour and self-improvement.

Now, I know that some of you are already skeptical about a term like “self-compassion.” But this is a scientific, data-driven argument – not feel-good pop psychology. So hang in there and keep an open mind.

Self-compassion is a willingness to look at your own mistakes and shortcomings with kindness and understanding it’s embracing the fact that to err is indeed human. When you are self-compassionate in the face of difficulty, you neither judge yourself harshly, nor feel the need to defensively focus on all your awesome qualities to protect your ego.

But what about performance? Self-compassion may feel good, but aren’t the people who are harder on themselves, who are driven to always be the best, the ones who are ultimately more likely to succeed?

While the spirit of self-compassion is to some degree captured in expressions like give yourself a break and cut yourself some slack, it is decidedly not the same thing as taking yourself off the hook or lowering the bar. You can be self-compassionate while still accepting responsibility for your performance. And you can be self-compassionate while striving for the most challenging goals – the difference lies not in where you want to end up, but in how you think about the ups and downs of your journey. As a matter of fact, if you are self- compassionate, new research suggests you are more likely to actually arrive at your destination.

Why is self-compassion so powerful? In large part, because it is non-evaluative – in other words, your ego is effectively out of the picture – you can confront your flaws and foibles head on. You can get a realistic sense of your abilities and your actions, and figure out what needs to be done differently next time.

SELF COMPASSION

When your focus is instead on protecting your self-esteem, you can’t afford to really look at yourself honestly. You can’t acknowledge the need for improvement, because it means acknowledging weaknesses and shortcomings – threats to self-esteem that create feelings of anxiety and depression. How can you learn how to do things right when it’s killing you to admit – even to yourself – that you’ve done them wrong?

Susie Wilson, Australia’s Leading Etiquette Expert.

http://www.susiewilson

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