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BBC Worklife 09-15-Jan-2021: Why Self-Compassion – Not Self-Esteem – Leads To Success

2 Mins read

Episode: BBC Worklife 09-15-JAN-2021

Topic 1: Why self-compassion – not self-esteem – leads to success.

Extract: A wealth of research shows that self-criticism often backfires – badly. Besides increasing our unhappiness and stress levels, it can increase procrastination and makes us even less able to achieve our goals in the future.

Instead of chastising ourselves, we should practice self-compassion. That is, we should give greater forgiveness for our mistakes, and make a deliberate effort to take care of ourselves throughout times of disappointment or embarrassment. 

“Self-esteem is contingent on success and people liking you, so it is not very stable. You could have it on a good day but lose it on a bad day.”

Kristin Neff
Image credit: Alamy

Measure how much you are cultivating self-compassion. On a scale of 1 (almost never) to 5 (almost always), rate yourself on the statements below:

  • I try to be loving toward myself when I’m feeling emotional pain
  • I try to see my failings as part of the human condition
  • When something painful happens, I try to take a balanced view of the situation


  • I’m disapproving and judgmental about my own flaws and inadequacies
  • When I think about my inadequacies, it tends to make me feel more separate and cut off from the rest of the world
  • When I’m feeling down, I tend to obsess and fixate on everything that’s wrong

The more you agree with the first set of statements, and the less you agree with the second set of statements, the higher your self-compassion.

For many of us, the struggles of isolation, remote working and caring for the people we love have provided the perfect breeding ground for self-criticism and doubt. While we cannot eliminate those stresses, we can at least change the ways we view ourselves, giving us the resilience to face the challenges head on.

Topic 2: Why living with and tending plants is good for you

Extract: Both Millennials and Gen Z grew up in a landscape that was increasingly obsessed with living online. This then continued into adulthood. “We took jobs that were increasingly online, and expected instant gratification from apps on our phones: dating, takeaways, cabs, handymen – everything could be gleaned swiftly.” 

credit: Hilton Carter/ CICO Books

And the antidote to that fast and furious digital life? Tending houseplants and gardening. “With gardening, nothing is instant. Nothing is guaranteed. Nothing can be tapped on a phone. It is a slow, physical, and patience-testing activity. All of which I personally find hugely relaxing when the rest of my life is so rapidly paced.”

“In a sense, having plants is like having pets – they bring you joy, but they also need love and attention. And having this living thing in your home, makes you focus on the daily caring for something that you’re now bonded to. There’s something in the caring process that’s therapeutic. You can use it to meditate or escape. And for two hours once a week, completely zone out.”

“Plants are like people, they need your help. Without you they don’t live.”

Sue Stuart-Smith

For younger generations, the lack of gardens and high-rise living in cities has led to a “disconnection” with nature. Houseplants are a way to re-connect with nature, and emotionally, they are helpful to mental wellbeing. 

Being in the presence of indoor plants – or looking at scenes of nature – have prompted people to make decisions that showed higher levels of generosity and trust, and had a sociability effect.

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Welcome to Worklife Feed articles and site-files indexing and adaptation series. BBC Worklife 09-15-JAN-2021

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