May 16, 2019

How to be kind to yourself

Look at any self-help section of any bookshop, and you’ll find books on books on how to improve your self-esteem: self-esteem for working women, self-esteem for new mothers, self-esteem for your teddy bear, self-esteem for when you hate yourself, self-esteem for when your cat ignores you…

For many years we’ve thought that self-esteem – that sense of feeling good about yourself-has been the holy grail of living the good life. The one thing thing that, when you get it, will magically make the rest of your life slot into place.

And it’s true that self-esteem works when it’s all going swell but isn’t much use when things don’t go your way. When, my dear Mind Minuters, not if, things go tits up, self-esteem is less useful. That’s when you need your new psychology superpower: self-compassion.

Self-compassion is acknowledging your suffering and treating yourself with kindness. If you are shuddering inside and making your vomit-face as you read this, then it’s really something you need to do.

Write yourself a ‘Compassionate Note’ starting with ‘Dear (you)…I know you have been feeling…’. Ideally you’d be sitting down at a beautiful mahogany desk in your private library with Smithers the butler serving you from a silver teapot, but failing that a note on your phone in the back of an Uber will suffice.

Ditch self-esteem. All the cool kids do self-compassion.