Entry 5


Failing and Prevailing

No one likes to fail, but self-compassion gives us room to fail, to learn from failure and to move on.   Many of us are whipped toward achievement by the sharp inner voice of self-criticism and competitiveness.   Self-compassion can remove the fear of failure and replace it with acceptance and a willingness to try again.

Forgiveness and Failure

Adopting a forgiving approach to personal failure seems to make people more motivated to improve.  For instance, a study of students who got disappointing grades on a tough exam showed that those with high levels of self-compassion remained more interested in the course and believed they were still competent.

In another study, two groups of people took two short, tough tests.   After the first test, one group received a self-compassionate message (If you had difficulty with the test you just took, you’re not alone.  It’s common for students to have difficulty with tests like this)”.    The other received a self-esteem boosting message (If you had difficulty with the test you just took, try not to feel bad about yourself – you must be intelligent if you got into Berkeley)”.    The group that heard the self-compassionate message performed better on the second test.

Go Easy on Yourself -

You can learn to be more self-compassionate with a little practice.  For instance, write a self-compassionate letter to yourself every day for a week.   This has been shown to increase happiness for as long as six months.

Many Buddhist mindfulness practices tie into self-compassion.  Yoga can help you achieve a sense of balance, relaxation, and well-being.  Body-scan techniques, in which you close your eyes and focus attention on one body part at a time, can also release tension and increase awareness of your body’s responses.   Loving-kindness meditation is a practice in which you sit with eyes closed and repeat phrases of good intention i.e. (May I be Healthy), (May I be Peaceful) and then direct those phrases toward others as well.

Just remember -

“We don’t need to create a ‘new’ you—we need to bring you into balance to be your happiest and healthiest self.” – Dr. Sara Gottfried, MD