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The Power of Practicing Self-Compassion

By: Erin Mclean March 23rd,2023

Self - Compassion

Self- Compassion according to Kristen Neff, Ph.D. is defined as “simply the process of turning compassion inward. We are kind and understanding rather than hardly self-critical when we fail, make mistakes, or feel inadequate. We give ourselves support and encouragement rather than being cold and judgmental when challenges and difficulty arise in our lives.” In order to fully understand Self-Compassion, we must define Compassion. Compassion is defined as “sympathetic pity or concern for the suffering or misfortunes of others” by the Oxford Languages. According to Kristen Neff there are three categories to Self-Compassion.

  1. Self-Kindness vs. Self-Judgement

People cannot always be or get exactly what they want. When this reality is denied or fought against suffering increases in the form of stress, frustration, and self-criticism. When this reality is accepted with sympathy and kindness, greater emotional equanimity is experienced.” - Dr. Kristen Neff

  1. Common Humanity vs. Isolation

The very definition of being “human” means that one is mortal, vulnerable and imperfect. Therefore, self-compassion involves recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience – something that we all go through rather than being something that happens to “me” alone.” - Dr.Kristen Neff

  1. Mindfulness vs. Over-identification

“a non-judgmental, receptive mind state in which one observes thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them.” - Dr. Kristen Neff

Practicing Self - Compassion

Self-Compassion is often harder to practice for many individuals because it does not come naturally for everyone. It is learned throughout one's lifetime. It is difficult to share the same compassion that we have towards our friends and towards ourselves. Christopher Germer authored the book The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion in which he addresses a variety of ways for one to foster self-compassion. A few of his suggestions are listed below:

Give Yourself Encouragement

Practicing self-encouragement means that when something bad or painful happens to yourself that you give the same compassion that you would to a friend going through a similar situation.

Comfort Your Body

Christopher suggests that eating something healthy or doing something that is physically rewarding or relaxing gives a dose of self-compassion.

Practice Mindfulness

To practice mindfulness means that we must practice acknowledging our thoughts without judgment and blame. An effective way to practice this is by writing a letter to yourself.

Benefits of Self-Compassion

Best Day Psychiatry and Counseling, PC in their article Self-Compassion and Your Mental Health they address many benefits and studies that have been done to show the benefits of self-compassion. The following are some of the benefits that they listed.

Greater Resilience

When Leaving Your Ex, Love Yourself: Observational Ratings of Self-Compassion Predict the Course of Emotional Recovery Following Marital Separation a study done in 2012 showed that adults that showed self-compassion while processing the breakup or divorce were less likely to be negatively affected by the change.

Greater Happiness

An examination of self-compassion in relation to positive psychological functioning and personality traits a study done in 2007 showed that students with self-compassion showed characteristics like happiness, optimism, and personal initiative at higher levels than those who did not show or practice self-compassion.

References

(n.d.). Self-Compassion.org. Retrieved March 24, 2023, from https://self-compassion.org/.

(2017, December 30) - https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797611429466

(2017, December 30) -YouTube.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S009265660600095X

Brooten, M. C. (2022, May 23). How to Practice Self-Compassion: 8 Life-Changing Techniques. Verywell Health.

The power of self-compassion. (n.d.) https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/the-power-of-self-compassion

Self-Compassion and Your Mental Health. (n.d.) https://bestdaypsych.com/self-compassion-and-your-mental-health/

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