I’ve been getting lots of great input with the speaking and radio interviews I’ve been doing since my book about self-compassion came out in July. One of the questions I heard a few times was Isn’t Self-Compassion Selfish? This is part 2 in the series of posts I’m covering on Biblical Questions about Self-Compassion.
At first glance, it could look this way. The reality is that when we don’t care for ourselves in a balanced way, we actually become selfish or self-focused. This occurs for several reasons:
When we don’t treat ourselves as a compassionate friend, the normal needs God placed in us don’t just go away…they just get transferred to someone else.
~ If you are a compassionate friend to yourself you won’t look to others (spouse, friend, boss, kids, etc) as your sole source of validation. The balance we are after is looking to God, ourselves and others. Remember, there is nothing wrong with welcoming this kind of encouraging input from others. It only becomes problematic when we only have others as the source of our encouragement and validation.
~ Lack of self-compassion can cause us to feel more alone on the inside which may cause us to place too much burden or pressure on our spouse, friends, and children to fill our aloneness and validate our worth and value.
~ Without meaning to, not being a compassionate friend to ourselves often results in problems owning up to our mistakes because acknowledgement of mistakes results in disdain and condemnation from our internal critic.
Self-compassion helps us be truly repentant when we see our mistakes or are confronted by another person. When we see ourselves in this balanced way—with truth and grace—we can acknowledge our faults without either falling into a self-focused pit of shame or defending against seeing the truth of the situation. When we respond in these unhealthy ways, conflicts do not get resolved and those in our lives will not be honest about problems that need to be worked through.
~ Not only do these responses hurt our relationships but they also cause problems for us. If we can’t acknowledge in a healthy way where we erred, there is no possibility of changing, learning, and growing. When this happens, we don’t learn from our mistakes, and we keep repeating them over and over again—resulting in more and more pain, loneliness and problems in relationships.
Someone who practices self-compassion might say something to themselves when they make mistakes, goof up or regret their actions:
Yes, I wish I’d acted differently. I’m using this experience for good in order to grow and learn. I can grant myself grace while still doing what is necessary to right this situation. I’m not perfect, and I don’t need to be. I am loveable and acceptable even when I make mistakes. I will take a look at what made me vulnerable to act in this way, and take steps to learn from this experience and repair any damage I have done. I can be a good friend to myself while handling this situation.
So, you can see that practicing self-compassion actually helps us be less selfish and less self-focused
We are better able to:
~ Encourage and validate ourselves, resulting in a more balanced give and take in relationships
~ Make a compassionate connection with ourselves on the inside – easing our loneliness
~ Own our mistakes and resolve conflict more effectively
~ Use our mistakes to grow and become more mature in every walk of life
~ Have more to give to others in our lives
~ Better able to hear God’s voice and leading in our lives
I hope this post has been helpful in addressing the question, Isn’t Self-Compassion Selfish? I would love to hear your response to what I shared.
What is your response to this question? What made sense? What do you disagree or wonder about?