A new research has explored the area of self-compassion amongst people - how kindly people view themselves.
The research conducted by experts at the University of Texas at Austin shows that giving ourselves a break and accepting our imperfections may be the first step toward better health.
AdvertisementThe researchers found that those who score high on tests of self-compassion have less depression and anxiety, and tend to be happier and more optimistic.
However, Kristin Neff, a pioneer in the field, says self-compassion is not to be confused with self-indulgence or lower standards.
"I found in my research that the biggest reason people aren't more self-compassionate is that they are afraid they'll become self-indulgent," the New York Times quoted Neff as saying.
"They believe self-criticism is what keeps them in line. Most people have gotten it wrong because our culture says being hard on yourself is the way to be."
"Self-compassion is really conducive to motivation. The reason you don't let your children eat five big tubs of ice cream is because you care about them. With self-compassion, if you care about yourself, you do what's healthy for you rather than what's harmful to you," he said.
For instance, a positive response to the statement "I'm disapproving and judgmental about my own flaws and inadequacies," for example, suggests lack of self-compassion.
Neff suggests a set of exercises - like writing yourself a letter of support, just as you might to a friend you are concerned about.
Remind yourself that nobody is perfect and thinking of steps you might take to help you feel better about yourself are also recommended.
Neff says that the field is still new and that she is just starting a controlled study to determine whether teaching self-compassion actually leads to lower stress, depression and anxiety and more happiness and life satisfaction.
"The problem is that it's hard to unlearn habits of a lifetime," she said.
"People have to actively and consciously develop the habit of self-compassion."