First of all, you have inherit worth. Period.
You were born with feelings and needs, pre-cognition, pre-language, longing for connection with a caregiver. Longing for connection.
Neuroscience now shows that our brains need connection and relationship to survive and thrive. This is an inherit birthright, to receive and give love. Somewhere along the way, however, we get hurt. We build up walls and defenses, telling ourselves we are not worthy of affection or people are not trust-worthy. Therefore, we feel we must work to build self-esteem, earning affection from others by our deeds. However, this makes self-worth contingent on comparison and achievement. We must continually work harder to earn our self-worth. Meanwhile, we may numb or ignore our own pain and hurt in the pursuit for self-esteem and worth.
Enter self-compassion. Kristin Neff has been researching this alternative to self-esteem that draws on our inherit worth and interconnectedness.
Self-compassion has three key components:
1. Self-kindness vs. self-judgment
2. Common humanity vs. Isolation
3. Mindfulness vs. Over-Identification
The first component reminds us to approach our pain, suffering and emotions with kindness and gentleness, rather than harshness or frustration.
Common humanity reminds us that we all mess up. We are never alone in suffering; everyone struggles with imperfection, failure and difficulty. Suffering is a way we are all connected. No man is an island.
Finally, mindfulness is a way for us to examine our thoughts and feelings about our suffering. We do not have to over-identify with our thoughts but can examine them and learn from them what emotions and needs are not being met in our lives.
I will leave you with a poem by 13th century Persian poet and mystic, Rumi:
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
P.S. Check out Kristin Neff’s website http://self-compassion.org for more on self-compassion!