The space between self-esteem and self compassion

Kristin Neff

"Self Compassion is not a way of judging ourselves positively. Self Compassion is a way of relating to ourselves kindly... embracing ourselves, flaws and all." - Kristin Neff

Every one of us understands what it means to judge others versus accepting them for who they are. Yet, few of us can relate this to how we view ourselves. Kristin Neff points out from her research that there is a glaring difference between how self-esteem and self compassion influence our happiness, life satisfaction, and connectedness.

When we focus on self-esteem, we are asking ourselves, “how am I different from others?”. To be above average, we puff ourselves up by putting others down and use self-criticism as a motivational tactic. On the other hand, when we turn our focus to self compassion, we ask, “how am I the same as others?”. Here, we embrace ourselves as we are through self kindness, mindfulness, and recognizing that our imperfections are exactly what connects us to the rest of humanity.