Which is Better: Self-Confidence or Self-Compassion?

Are you self-confident? Do you feel strong and capable in most situations? Our society praises strong self-esteem and confident people. We are taught to “fake it until you make it” in situations where our confidence might be slipping. But the flip side of that thought pattern is that you are denying your truth in any given moment, and in some circumstances may slip over the edge into bravado.

Behavioral scientists now believe that self-compassion is a more valuable trait. Those with self-compassion have some understanding of their weaknesses and shortcomings, and accept them as part of the human condition.

self-confidenceDr. Kristin Neff, an associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Texas, says, “Self-compassion is treating yourself with the same kindness, care and concern you show a loved one. We need to frame it in terms of humanity. That’s what makes self-compassion so different: ‘I’m an imperfect human being living an imperfect life.’”

There is nothing “wrong” with feeling powerful and at ease in a situation, as long as you are truthful. It is when you exaggerate your abilities in an attempt to be something you are not that you are no longer being kind to yourself or others. It is harder to grow if you feel a need to pretend to be something you are not, and those around you will usually see the pretense.

When you admit you have human flaws and are not completely confident in all areas, you are living with more soul wisdom and authenticity. You feel more connected with others because you know they share similar flaws. You are more willing to admit and apologize for mistakes, and have compassion for the mistakes of others. You notice if self-talk becomes either negative or false bravado and change your thinking to more compassionate, self-supportive thoughts.

Work to recognize your strengths and abilities, and to be confident in situations in which your strengths and abilities are useful. But be compassionate as well, willing to accept that you may not have the perfect inner resources for all situations.

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