Wisdom and Self-Compassion


  Wisdom and Self-Compassion

This article discusses the differences between wisdom and self-compassion and why these concepts are important. It also offers a few simple steps to cultivating both wisdom and self-compassion in your life.

Many people struggle with living up to their own expectations, meeting other people's expectations, or just not feeling good about themselves at all. Unfortunately this can lead to loneliness, depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems. According to the article "Less is More," others value us more when we accept ourselves for who we are rather than striving for perfection as defined by society (which means setting our standards too high). This is where the concept of self-compassion comes in. Self-compassion has been defined as the act of being and feeling loving towards oneself while being motivated for change.

The main difference between wisdom and self-compassion is that wisdom includes all positive traits like compassion, sensitivity, humility, happiness, and clarity which are all healthy qualities in one's life that can be learned but those traits may not necessarily be the ones we value most in our own lives. Wisdom also requires you to accept your shortcomings as a human being and that everyone has their own individual struggles. It is okay to feel anxious about everything from getting a haircut to meeting a new person to giving a speech in front of people. It is okay to not have all the answers in life. Having compassion for yourself allows you to be more open to wisdom because you are able to be more aware of your personal weaknesses and strengths. Self-compassion allows you to look at your struggles as learning experiences which can help prevent future mistakes and/or failures.

The article states that one of the first steps toward cultivating self-compassion is approaching failure as a teacher rather than a punishment. These 25 exercises will help you practice being kinder and open up yourself for wisdom.


Acceptance: Be accepting of your surroundings, people, and circumstances. Accept the good and the bad in your life. Accept that other people have their own goals, motivations, aspirations, and values. Accept that other people are not always right or always wrong but they also do not always know what is best for you (see Less is More). Validate: Tell yourself that you are valued regardless of how you act or feel at the moment. See your problems as challenges rather than problems. Use humor to make yourself laugh which shows others that you are okay with yourself and your struggles rather than taking things so seriously which creates more anxiety in your life. Acceptance of your situation will help you handle it better in the future. Humility: Practice being humble about your successes and failures in life. Learn to be more helpful, kind, and caring toward others to show them that you are aware of their own faults and victories. This also helps prevent you from taking things too personally which can lead to more feelings of anxiety or unhappiness in your life.


Self-kindness: Speak kindly toward yourself to show yourself that you care. Practice acknowledging your struggles and being open to help from others. This acts as a reminder that you are valued by others even when you doubt your own worth or capabilities. Know your worth: Value yourself for who you are not what makes other people value you or what makes society value others. Do not base your self-worth on how much money you make, what job title you have, or how much power and influence you have over the lives of other people in your life. Validate: Assume that you are a good person who has done some bad things in life. If you can assume that you are worth being loved by others and yourself then you will be able to kindly accept criticism or advice from others about your shortcomings. You can also remember that other people have their own flaws and strengths in life which is different from your own. Do not judge others because they make different choices than you do in their lives. Practice kindness: Be kinder to yourself by learning to focus on your own needs, desires, and goals rather than constantly trying to please other people. Learn what makes you happy and do it consistently even if it does not make sense from an outside perspective or if it seems weird or silly to other people. Make a nurturing list for yourself. Set time aside each day to reflect on your own life. Remind yourself that you are loved by other people and that you can also be compassionate toward others when they have weaknesses, flaws, or struggles in their lives.

Life is not always going to be easy. There will always be stressful situations that you have to deal with which may include making difficult decisions or having hard conversations with other people who bother you in some way. If these situations do come up it is important to remember that other people will also be experiencing their own struggles so try not to judge them too harshly or worry too much about the things they say because it will probably hurt your feelings. There is nothing wrong with taking a step back from certain people in your life, but you should never be ashamed of who you are as a person. Always remember that you are not the only person in the world fighting their own battles.


Less is More: Being More With Less. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.good.is/articles/less-is-more-being-more-with-less Wisdom and self compassion | Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Association (ACT). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.aacta.org/wisdom-and-self-compassion/

© Copyright 2015 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Noelle Gerber, MS, MFT, therapist in Tucson, Arizona

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I have never taken a class or focused on the art and science of human relationships in therapy. I have attempted to actively listen and observe others which has given me ideas about how to improve my relationship strength with others. I feel that being charged up with enthusiasm, emotional intelligence, and compassion can improve your relationships with everyone from your spouse to the person at the supermarket who slights you as they make their way towards you or angrily drives by you without even turning their head to acknowledge your existence. The more aware of yourself that you are the more that you can do to boost up other people's self-esteem.

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