Knights of the Pain Table

A Camelot for Sufferers of Chronic Pain

Self-Compassion Preferable to Self-Esteem Mark Leary of Duke University Explains


Self-compassion is extending compassion towards one’s self in times of hurt, failure, pain or suffering.   It differs from self-esteem, which involves a person’s overall evaluation or appraisal of his/her own worth.    In times of crisis, which benefits us the most?

Mark R. Leary, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, NC, USA, led a study to seek an answer to this question, by initiating one of the first major investigations of self-compassion. The results were published in the May 2007 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

The study found  that self-compassion was more beneficial than self-esteem, when things go badly. Self-compassion was found to  eliminate a lot of the anger, depression and pain.
Listen to Mark Leary discuss his findings.

For those who suffer great physical or emotional pain that is prolonged, it is a great challenge to just survive each day.   Severe chronic pain, breaks your spirit one piece at a time.    One looses often their career, their relationships, their money, their security and often their faith in people and even in God.   Deep suffering breaks all your identities in the world, which leads to the destruction of your self-esteem.

When you cannot achieve what you want to do, or achieve the results of your past perfections, failure and other negative emotions, become a very destructive force.   If you are to battle these destructive forces,  you need to find a source of strength that is far greater.

The warriors in the Middle Ages understood battles and suffering.    To protect their humanity, they created a Code of Chivalry, which was based on living to their highest virtues, like courage.    By using chivalry it constantly directed them to their greatest strength, and that was their heart.    Chivalry is weaved with the loom of compassion.

Just as a Knight would fight to protect a poor child, we need to fight to protect ourselves when we are vulnerable and hurt.    We need to fight by using compassion,  armor for our own hearts.

We thank Mark Leary for helping us understand how important self-compassion is in the darkest of times.

Lady Sharon
Scribe of Camelot

Mark Leary is Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and Director of the Social Psychology Progtram at Duke University.   Dr. Leary was the founding editor of Self and Identity, a new scholarly journal initiated in 2001, and served for nine years as Associate Editor of the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.

Visit Mark Leary’s Website.

Source:  Self-Compassion May Be More Important than Self-Esteem

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