Your Self-Esteem is Tearing You Down

Turns out, self-esteem isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I recently read about a very interesting study, which compared self-esteem to self-compassion. Now, before you roll your eyes and call me a hippie, read the findings:

In their studies, Brienes and Chen asked participants to take either a self-compassionate or self-esteem enhancing view of a setback or failure. For example, when asked to reflect on a personal weakness, some were asked to “imagine that you are talking to yourself about this weakness from a compassionate and understanding perspective. What would you say?”

Others were asked to instead focus on boosting their self-esteem: “Imagine that you are talking to yourself about this weakness from a perspective of validating your positive qualities. What would you say?”

People who experienced self-compassion were more likely to see their weaknesses as changeable. Self-compassion — far from taking them off the hook — actually increased their motivation to improve and avoid the same mistake again in the future.

This increased motivation lead to demonstrably superior performance. For instance, in one study, participants who failed an initial test were given a second chance to improve their scores. Those who took a self-compassionate view of their earlier failure studied 25 percent longer, and scored higher on a second test, than participants who focused on bolstering their self-esteem. -Harvard Business Review Blog

Ego is about comparing our achievements to the perceived success of those around us. It allows no room for mistakes, or else somebody else might be “the best” and leave us in the dust.

Self-compassion, however, is about love. It is about learning that I am worthy of love, forgiveness, second chances. Even when I am the one I’ve wronged.

And how funny… when we move toward grace and mercy as we look at our weaknesses and failures, we actually thrive. We are no longer answering the cruel masters of ego and pride, and we’ve come back to love… The purpose of our existence.

It is easy to know that others deserve your love, but you deserve your love. You  deserve compassion. The best version of you can only exist when you acknowledge the worst in you, and have compassion.

Let the best you see the light of day.

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