Most people are very critical and tough when it comes to evaluating ourselves. Especially when we believe we have a defect or a lack. We tend to mistreat ourselves in a ruthless way when we make a mistake, believing that we will improve. The truth is that in the end we did not succeed.
There is an alternative to this abusive self-criticism to grow: self-pity. It is about addressing yourself with kindness, recognizing the common aspects with the rest of the people, but also accepting the limitations themselves.
Thus, according to the American psychologist Cristin Neff, one of the most prominent researchers in this field, self-pity covers three fundamental aspects:
- Goodness to oneself.
- Recognition of humanity.
- Full attention.
Let’s see what each one consists of.
Kindness towards oneself
By experiencing feelings of affection for ourselves, not only changes our mind, but also our body.
When we calm our pain we appeal to the mammalian attachment system. One of the most important functions of this system is to release oxytocin, a hormone that increases our feeling of trust and feelings of peace, security, generosity, and connection, as well as fostering the ability to feel affection and compassion for oneself.
Recognize the humanity in common
The feeling of compassion arises from the recognition that the human experience is imperfect. Compassion towards oneself recognizes the fact that all human beings can fail.
When we are in contact with our common humanity, we remember that suffering is shared. All people suffer or feel pain at some point in our lives.
Being self-compassionate is not the same as feeling sorry for yourself. Self-pity leads us to better understand the situation, in a friendly way and drives us to find better solutions to our personal improvement.
Feelings of connection with others, such as goodness, activate the brain’s attachment system. People who feel connected to others often do not fear adverse circumstances so much and respond more flexibly to life’s challenges.
Cultivate full awareness
The third key element to practice self-pity is mindfulness or mindfulness . Living in the present, with acceptance and without judgment, leads us to have a clearer vision of our suffering.
Practicing mindfulness helps us recognize how we feel and identify emotions and thoughts as what they are, without letting ourselves be determined by them.
It is about observing what happens in our field of consciousness in the here and now . This will allow us to identify that thoughts about the past and the future are exactly that: thoughts.
In addition, mindfulness also provides us with tools to respond to the different situations of our life from a state of calm and relaxation. Thanks to this, we will not overreact and cause consequences that we may regret in the future.
As we can see, being self-compassionate is a constant exercise of kindness and goodness towards oneself that should not be limited to a specific moment , but to an attitude that must be cultivated throughout our lives.