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How Self-Compassion Helps You To Achieve Your Goals

By January 8, 2024Blog
How Self-Compassion Helps Us To Achieve Our Goals - Sam Owen Relationship Coach's Blog

Pursuing Your Various Life Goals

Living in a hyperconnected world is a blessing and a curse but perhaps one of the main challenges is how social media has tampered with people’s self-esteem, confidence and relationships.

For example, social media provides a place for people to flirt with others 365 days a year, thus increasing (chances for) infidelity. It provides filters for distorting what we all look like, leading to a lack of self-acceptance and self-esteem. It has bridged the gap between people living at a distance, but created a distance between family and friends living nearby. And with over-consumption, we lose valuable time including time we need with ourselves to reflect and recharge.

These deleterious effects of social media which directly and indirectly affect us and those around us, hamper the pursuit of our goals – our relationship goals, career goals, health/fitness goals, and so on.

So how do you buffer yourself from the negative effects of flailing confidence and/or low self-esteem so that you can achieve your all important life goals, big and small? The answer is self-compassion.

Self-compassion can be defined as being kind and understanding towards yourself in the face of adversity, failings and when confronting negative aspects about yourself.


Self-Compassion & Self-Esteem Effects On Mental Health

Researchers conducted a study with 2,448 Australian adolescents of an average age of 14.65 years to assess how both self-esteem with self-compassion impacted changes in their mental health over the course of one year [1].

Just over three quarters had parents that were married (75.7%), whilst 18.5% were divorced or separated, and 5.8% were categorised as ‘other’.

They made three important discoveries:

  • When the participants were low in self-compassion as well as low in self-esteem, their low self-esteem dropped significantly over the year.
  • However, when they were high in self-compassion whilst having low self-esteem, the high self-compassion protected them from declining mental health.
  • High self-esteem, on the other hand, predicted improved mental health a year later, in both those high in self-compassion and those low in self-compassion.


Self-Compassion Effect On Wellbeing

In another study, a meta-analysis using data from 79 study samples consisting of 16,416 participants in adulthood (approximately 27-32 years age), researchers found that in general, higher levels of self-compassion were associated with higher levels of wellbeing [2].

Categorising different types of wellbeing:

  • they found the strongest correlation was between self-compassion and psychological wellbeing (which they describe as the pursuit and realisation of one’s true potential);
  • then between self-compassion and negative affect (the subjective experience of negative emotions) and between self-compassion and cognitive wellbeing (life satisfaction – how one cognitively evaluates one’s life);
  • and lastly between self-compassion and positive affect (the subjective experience of positive emotions).


How Self-Compassion Helps

Self-compassion reminds you that you are human. And that means nobody is perfect, that we all make mistakes, that not every thought you have reflects the truth, and that you are lovable regardless of your failings.

There are people who (will) love you for exactly who you are so first you have to love yourself for exactly who you are. Change for the better, always. But be loving towards yourself in the process.

As Jim Rohn once said, ‘Learn to be happy with what you have while you pursue all that you want.’ Although that context was about the pursuit of goals, it applies here too, to the pursuit of stable self-esteem and wellbeing. In turn, it will significantly help you to more easily achieve your goals.


How To Be Self-Compassionate

As you work towards your goals of all sizes and in all domains, remember that being self-compassionate makes you more skilled at whatever you’re doing, it helps you to be more optimistic about whatever you’re pursuing, it makes you happier and healthier on that journey, and ultimately helps you to obtain whatever it is that you want, a fitter body, a happier marriage, better behaved children, recognition from your boss, more savings, more friends, and so on.

Self-compassion stems from the mind.

What you think determines the emotions you feel, which in turn influences the behaviours you engage in, which consequently determine the outcomes you get in life.

Use your thoughts for positive gains instead of self-inflicting pain. For example, ‘I’m getting better at ______ every day’; ‘I am worthy of love and good fortune’; ‘I am a great mum/dad’, ‘I am skilled at my job’. And, importantly, use these in the face of bad days, mistakes you’ve made, and aspects of yourself that you’re working on improving, e.g. ‘I’ve learnt how to do this better now so that’s great’, ‘We all make mistakes’, ‘I am growing into a better person every day’.

Never underestimate the power of your thoughts to shape your life, they are steering your life, consciously and subconsciously. What you say to yourself, and to others about yourself, tells your brain what to focus on and work towards. Don’t believe it? Try it.

Next time you’re out walking, repeatedly tell yourself, ‘I walk confidently’, and watch how there and then, your body posture adjusts, fairly automatically, resulting in a confident walk, straight back, eyes fixed ahead. Or as you brush your teeth, repeatedly think to yourself, ‘I brush my teeth rigorously’, and notice how you brush your teeth more meticulously and/or for longer than you normally do.

And it doesn’t even matter if those positive words reflect your current reality or your desired reality, your brain will act accordingly either way. Like a faithful servant, your brain will abide your instructions.

So use your thoughts to boost self-compassion and in turn serve you and your life goals, and mankind, through how they influence your emotions and behaviours.


Using Your Thoughts For Self-Esteem, Wellbeing And Goals

As mentioned earlier, your thoughts also impact your emotions which aside from subsequently influencing your behaviours, affect the quantity of negative emotions and positive emotions you experience minute-to-minute. You can test that, too.

What emotions do you experience when you think negative thoughts such as, ‘I am worthless’, ‘I’m never going to find a partner’; ‘Everybody misunderstands me’? Sad? Despondent? Anxious? Angry?

Other studies have also linked negative thoughts with various outcomes.

For example, repetitive negative thinking in the form of worry and rumination have been repeatedly linked to anxiety and depression [3], whilst self-critical thoughts have been linked to anxiety [4], and low self-esteem, depressive symptoms and eating disorders [5].

It’s unsurprising then that the first two aforementioned studies found that those higher in self-compassion – a form of positive thinking – had higher levels of wellbeing, and prevented declines in mental health even when they had low self-esteem.

So make self-compassionate thoughts a crucial tool in your arsenal for achieving all your goals.


Be Kind To Yourself

Remember that we all have imperfections, we all make mistakes (especially when we’re personally growing), we all experience adversities, and we’re all a work-in-progress.

Learn from the lows so that they shape your highs. Be grateful for the journey, it’s part of the fun. And take life on with wonder, because where you’ll end up is not where you’ve begun.



1. Marshall, S. L., Parker, P. D., Ciarrochi, J., Sahdra, B., Jackson, C. J., & Heaven, P. C. L. (2015). Self-compassion protects against the negative effects of low self-esteem: A longitudinal study in a large adolescent sample. Personality and Individual Differences, 74, 116–121.

2. Muris, P., & Otgaar, H. (2023). Self-Esteem and Self-Compassion: A Narrative Review and Meta-Analysis on Their Links to Psychological Problems and Well-Being. Psychology Research and Behavior Management, 16, 2961–2975.

3. Yang, M. J., Kim, B. N., Lee, E. H., Lee, D., Yu, B. H., Jeon, H. J., & Kim, J. H. (2014). Diagnostic utility of worry and rumination: a comparison between generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 68(9), 712–720.

4. Shi, X., Brinthaupt, T. M. and McCree, M. (2014). The Relationship of Self-Talk Frequency to Communication Apprehension and Public Speaking Anxiety. Personality and Individual Differences, 75, 125–9.

5. Dunkley, D. M., & Grilo, C. M. (2007). Self-criticism, low self-esteem, depressive symptoms, and over-evaluation of shape and weight in binge eating disorder patients. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 45(1), 139–149.