Self-criticism does more than make us feel badly. It is actually bad for our health. Self-Criticism activates the nervous threat response system stimulating the hormones designed to help us deal with danger through a ‘fight, fight or freeze’. When our threat response system is activated day after day, year after year, it depletes our reserves making us more reactive, stressed and burned out.
Self-Compassion on the other hand activates the soothing system designed to open our hearts and make us feel safe and connected.
Self-Compassion is good for our health on all levels. There is a large and growing research base supporting the health and wellness benefits of cultivating more ‘self-compassion’.
It is strongly associated with fewer negative states like depression, anxiety, stress, shame and negative body image while at the same time strongly linked to more positive states like happiness,optimism, self-care, life and relationship satisfaction.
People with a high degree of self-compassion tend to
- be more caring and supportive in romantic relationships
- be more likely to compromise in relationship conflicts
- be more compassionate toward others
- be more accountable for their actions
- be more likely to apologize if they’ve offended someone
- be more committed to high personal standards, but don’t beat themselves up when they fail
- be less afraid of failure and more likely to try again and to persist in their efforts after failing
- be more engaged in healthy behaviours like exercise, eating well, drinking less and going to the doctor more regularly
- be more likely to access medical services more quickly for health problems than people with a low-level of self-compassion.
- remind themselves that many people have health problems and that they do not deserve to be sick.
- feel less depressed about their health problems than people with a low level of self-compassion.
- adjust significantly better after divorce than those who spoke more harshly
- deal with stress more effectively and experience less stress-induced inflammation
- experience less burnout, stress and vicarious trauma as caregivers and front line workers.
Fortunately mindfulness and self-compassion are skills anyone can learn. Join us for our fall scheduled Mindful Self-Compassion Skills Training programs.