Archives: self-compassion

Stop Self-Critical Perfectionism:  Practice Self-Compassion


Stop Self-Critical Perfectionism: Practice Self-Compassion


Go Easy on Yourself, a New Wave of Research Urges –


You probably enjoyed Tara Parker-Pope’s article (above) from the NY Times (click above) about our need for self-compassion. Why aren’t we easier on ourselves? Why aren’t we as compassionate toward ourselves as we are toward others? There appear to be cultural influences on the critical eye we turn toward ourselves. The world is competitive, and we need to be disciplined to succeed: the early bird catches the worm, you snooze, you lose….etc. People fear that imperfection leaves them open to “losing” or to criticism and rejection. The research indicates however that a little dose of self-compassion can go a long way, in lowered stress and sometimes improved performance (the research on weight loss cited in the article).

Why is it so difficult to let go of these self-critical, perfectionistic voices that seem to rule our lives? Some object-relations theories seem to offer some insight on this process. According to Fairbairn and Guntrip, each of us experiences trauma in some form or another when we are infants and on. This doesn’t have to be major abuse, it can be small moments that occur that a baby can’t process. This happens to everyone-there are always moments that babies can’t process, because they are babies, and because perhaps mother isn’t able to help sooth them during those moments. The more of these moments that we have, and the more mother isn’t able to sooth them, then we develop patterns of expectation of the world, and ways of being that are designed to protect us from the disappointments and dangers that we expect from the world. So there is a part of us that is always devoted to overcoming our feelings of weakness and vulnerability to ensure that we can’t be hurt. So, to always be strong, powerful, the one “on top”, without needs, perfect and/or in control makes us feel that we are safe and above hurt. We crack the whip at ourselves when we feel need, love or compassion. It is a form of self-protection, although often a self-defeating one because of the level of stress, interpersonal disconnection and conflict that may result.

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