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Excerpted from Self-Esteem by Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning. Copyright © 2000 by Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning. Excerpted by permission of New Harbinger Publications, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"There are three basic components to the skill of compassion: understanding, accepting, and forgiving."

  Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning,
, Part 1

The essence of self-esteem is compassion for yourself. When you have compassion for yourself, you understand and accept yourself. If you make a mistake, you forgive yourself. You have reasonable expectations of yourself. You set attainable goals. You tend to see yourself as basically good.

Your pathological critic cannot stand compassion. To him, compassion is like water to the Wicked Witch of Oz or garlic to a vampire. When your self- talk is compassionate, your pathological critic is gagged. Compassion is one of the most potent weapons you have for keeping your pathological critic at bay.

When you learn to feel compassion for yourself, you begin exposing your sense of worth. You literally uncover the hidden jewel of your own value. Compassionate self- talk can wash away the sediment of hurt and rejection that may have covered your innate self- acceptance for years.

This chapter will define compassion, show how compassion for yourself and compassion for others are related, discuss how to achieve a sense of self- worth, and present exercises designed to increase your compassionate skills.

Compassion Defined

Most people think of compassion as an admirable character trait like honesty, loyalty, or spontaneity. If you have compassion, you show it by being kind, sympathetic, and helpful to others.

This is certainly true. However, as it relates to self-esteem, compassion is much more. First of all, it is not an unchanging character trait. Compassion is actually a skill-a skill you can acquire if you lack it or improve if you already have it. Second, compassion is not something you feel only for others. It should also inspire you to be kind, sympathetic, and helpful to yourself.

There are three basic components to the skill of compassion: understanding, accepting, and forgiving.

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