Self-compassion or self-confidence?

By admin On August 5th, 2013

Which one would you choose?

Welcome to my blog, where I will discuss topics relevant to the field of counselling. I wish to offer you insight, raise your awareness and offer you an opportunity for you to ponder about some interesting ideas.

This week I would like to discuss the difference between self esteem and self-compassion.

First, let’s explore what is the meaning of self esteem or self confidence. When we are doing well or we have achieved something amazing we feel confident. Self-esteem is often about how well we are doing in comparison to others or to other times in our life. When our self-esteem is low, we may feel inferior to others, and we judge ourselves. We often end up chasing our self-confidence, trying to keep it high, which is really hard work.

Do you think it is possible to keep self-esteem high?

We might be setting ourselves an impossible task when we focus our energies and efforts on building self-esteem. It is very much a fluctuating phenomenon for most human beings. Especially when we faced with pain, losses in our lives life our confidence tends to feel low and very fragile. Pain is part of our common shared humanity, at times sadly unavoidable.

On the other hand Self-compassion is a skill we can all learn to practice even if we never ever have done this. Tibetan Buddhism defines compassion as sensitivity to the suffering of self and others with a deep wish and commitment to relieve the suffering’. Self-compassion stems from the intention of wanting to help ourselves, and I never met a client who did not have this natural desire and help themselves, with deep intention to alleviate their own suffering.

Self-compassion is a mind & heart set; it is more than a set of beliefs or attitude. It is most helpful in times of distress and in times of suffering. When we face hurt, upset, sadness it is an opportunity to offer ourselves compassion. It does not depend on how well you are doing, it is there for you especially when you feeling low, upset, angry. It recognises that we all share a common human experience, which brings emotional reactions not always comfortable.

Developing this mind/heart set gives us permission to no longer hide our vulnerable side and our inadequacies. It is a good starting point to just check in gently with yourself, without being critical. You can test how self-compassionate you are using an online tool developed by Dr Neff. Or just let yourself think of the answers you would give.

If you’d like to watch a video explaining the difference between self-esteem and self-compassion more in depth please watch Dr Neff, who researched the benefits of self-compassion on wellbeing.

Any living being who faces pain and suffering is worthy of compassion, and so are you; for the simple fact that you might also struggle at times.

If you think that ok, this all sounds good, however you know that have always struggled to turn compassion towards yourself. You might also notice some lingering self-critical thoughts in your mind, with a deep sense of not being good enough or not-deserving self-compassion. Or you might have had experience , when you understand that something you may have blame yourself for was not your fault; however you struggle to really feel this, logic and an alternative way of thinking just does not manage to reassure you.

Counselling using Compassion Focused Therapy might be really helpful for these struggles and to help you to understand your own blocks to this. Please do contact me if you wish to find out more or you are interested in finding out more about counselling , 07917 583697 or

So which one would you choose? Self-compassion or self-esteem? Think of someone who really knows you and cares about you , which one would they choose for you?

Comments are closed.