I have high self-esteem, I don't need self-compassion...or do I?
Self esteem and self compassion are not the same thing. There was a movement in the 90s to help build self esteem in school aged children. This is when coaches started giving every child on the sports team a participation trophy. This is when grading scales were adjusted in the classroom. The idea was if we make children feel more successful, they will have less depression and anxiety.
Fast forward 20 plus years and we have an increase in narcissism. We are seeing the highest use of anti depressants and pain killers in history. Hospitals are reporting increasing numbers of substance overdose. And, we have an epidemic of suicide at all ages.
Self-esteem is dependent on recognition from an outside source. You think I did well, you give me a trophy. You judge that I performed well, you give me an A. Your boss says you are doing well at work, you get a raise.
Self-esteem builds if someone decides I am worth recognition. We get self-esteem from someone noticing our accomplishments. We get a pat on the back and our self-esteem increases. Temporarily.
As quickly as self-esteem can get a boost, it can be deflated. On a bad day, when things don’t go well, and no one is pleased with you, your self-esteem can crash. Then, your inner critic starts raging and the downward spiral begins. Self-esteem is fragile and fickle.
However, the ability to show self-compassion never leaves you. It is a foundational sense of self worth and a sustaining practice of comforting your pain. With self-compassion, the self-talk on a bad day can sound like this: I don’t need that person’s recognition to know my value. I know my inherent worth. I see my contribution, even when that person cannot. I know I matter more than this current situation I am in.
Self-esteem depends upon external recognition. Self-compassion is internal recognition.