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Self-Compassion – Fostering a Practice

Fostering a Practice of Self-Compassion can be very beneficial to you in improving your emotional resiliance and wellbeing. This blog looks at What Self-Compassion is and is not and how you can foster a practice in Self-Compassion. This blog would like to acknowlege the work or Kristen Neff and thank her for the resources that she has made available to help us all in our journey towards Self-Compassion.

What is Self-Compassion?

The vast majority of us can feel compassion for another human being. I am sure that we have all seen someone, at some point in our lives, even someone we don’t know, who is suffering and struggling, and felt moved by their situation. We have feelings of caring and a desire to help them, we don’t feel judgement towards them but understanding and kindness.

Self-compassion is the same but directed towards yourself. You notice that you are suffering, having a hard time, or you do not like something about yourself. Your inclination might be to “brush it off” “suck it up” have a “stiff upper lip” but instead you are kind towards yourself acknowledge that this is difficult and consider how you might make things better for yourself, how you might take care of yourself. Kristen Neff says,

Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?”

How can you be Self-Compassionate?

Kristen Neff identifies three components of self-compassion

  1. Self-kindness vs Self-judgment
  2. Common Humanity vs Isolation
  3. Mindfulness vs Over Identification (getting immersed and swept away by our feelings)

First – we must notice that we are suffering or having a hard time. We must try not to be caught up in our emotional drama but step back and acknowledge that something is not okay.

Second – we must remember that other people will be dealing with something similar. We have all lost someone, been rejected, had a bad day at work, been called names, struggle with our weight etc. etc. It is important not to feed the idea that we are the only person in the world who is going through this.

Third – we must treat ourselves kindly, as we would a friend, talk to ourselves using a calm and soothing voice, consider what we might need to do to feel better and take care of ourselves. It is important not to feed the self-judging thoughts and feelings.

What is the difference between Self-Compassion and Self Esteem?

Self Esteem

  • Self Esteem is our sense of self-worth, perceived value, how much we like ourselves.
  • It is often based on how we compare ourselves to others, how much we stand out or are special.
  • When we are concerned about raising our self-esteem we might ignore or hide things we don’t like about ourselves.
  • Our self-esteem can often depend on whether we are successful or not. This means our self-esteem can fluctuate depending on what is happening for us.

Self- Compassion

  • Self-compassion is not based on how we evaluate ourselves.
  • We feel self-compassion because we are all human and deserve compassion, not because we are more special than someone else.
  • With self-compassion we are able to acknowledge all the parts of ourselves, even the ones we may not like because we are able to treat them with kindness.
  • Self-compassion does not depend on external circumstances it is always available to us.

Kristen Neff has a video about the difference between Self Compassion and Self-Esteem here and why developing Self-Compassion can be more beneficial to us than trying to promote Self-Esteem.

What is the difference between Self-Compassion and Pity?

When a person feels self-pity, they can merge with their problems and become overwhelmed by them. They forget that other people have similar problems, and they can feel that they are the only ones suffering and get swept along with their feelings.

Self-Compassion encourages us to see ourselves in relation to other people. It encourages us to step back and gain greater perspective and objectivity.

How can Self-Compassion benefit my life?

Through fostering a practice of Self-Compassion you can develop for yourself

  • Greater emotional resilience
  • A more accurate sense of who you are, because you don’t need to hide parts of yourself
  • More caring relationships
  • Less anger

Where can I find out more information and resources about Self-Compassion?

One of the best resources for Self-Compassion is Kristen Neff’s Website. Here you will find more information and research on Self-Compassion and how it might help you in your life. You will also find free exercises that you can do to help foster a Self-Compassion practice.

I Would like to talk to someone about this more….

If you want to talk to someone about the things you are struggling with and how you can help to develop Self-Compassion and you would like some more formal support please don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss it further. You can also find out more about me and therapy by taking a look at my FAQs and About Me page. I work with a wide range of issues and can offer both short and long term therapy with both couples and individuals. I am currently offering remote support on the telephone or Online Counselling via ZOOM. Please call me on 07843 813 537 or fill in the form on the Contact Page, if I don’t answer I am probably in a session, please leave me a message and I will call you back as soon as I can. I look forward to hearing from you.

Self Compassion


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