The Importance of Self-Compassion
But What exactly is Self-Compassion?
Self-kindness. Self-compassion entails being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism. Self-compassionate people recognize that being imperfect, failing, and experiencing life difficulties is inevitable, so they tend to be gentle with themselves when confronted with painful experiences rather than getting angry when life falls short of set ideals.
Common humanity. Frustration at not having things exactly as we want is often accompanied by an irrational but pervasive sense of isolation – as if “I” were the only person suffering or making mistakes. All humans suffer, however. 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.
Mindfulness. Self-compassion also requires taking a balanced approach to our negative emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated. This equilibrated stance stems from the process of relating personal experiences to those of others who are also suffering, thus putting our own situation into a larger perspective. It also stems from the willingness to observe our negative thoughts and emotions with openness and clarity…
Research Findings on Self-Compassion
- Self-compassion appears to facilitate resilience by moderating people’s reactions to negative events.
- One of the most consistent findings in the research literature is that greater self-compassion is linked to less psychopathology; there appears to be a found a large effect size when examining the link between self-compassion and depression, anxiety, and stress across 20 studies.
- Research suggests that self-compassion actually enhances motivation.
- Self-compassion not only helps oneself but also improves interpersonal functioning, including improved romantic relationships, and decreased controlling and aggressiveness (relative to those who lack self-compassion).
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If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. ~ Dalai Lama
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Tools You can Use Right Now: Dr. Kristin Neff
Audiobook: Dr. Neff also offers a step by step audio program for self-kindness.
Research: Research paper for clinicians, Self-Compassion in Clinical Practice.
Video: Self-Compassion – Part 1: Dr. Kristin Neff
Tools You can Use Right Now: Dr. Rick Hanson Interviews with Experts on the Compassionate Brain
As those who are regular visitors to this site know, Rick Hanson is one of my favorite experts and advocates for taming the ancient brain with modern mindfulness. He has developed and offers (for free!) his series called The Compassionate Brain: Activating the Neural Circuits of Kindness, Caring, and Love: Practical Neuroscience for Transformation. According to host site Sounds True,
Dr. Rick Hanson presents a FREE eight-part video series—The Compassionate Brain—that explores effective ways to change your brain and heart and life.
In each interview, Dr. Hanson is joined by a world-class scholar/teacher, including Richie Davidson, Dan Siegel, Tara Brach, Dacher Keltner, Kelly McGonigal, Kristin Neff, and Jean Houston. They discuss different ways to use the power of neuroplasticity—how the mind can change the brain to transform the mind—to open the heart, build courage, find compassion, forgive oneself and others, and heal the world.
“Perhaps the most valuable result of our new discoveries about neuroplasticity,” says Dr. Rick Hanson, “is that it helps us bring our brain into harmony with the greatest virtues of our heart.” With The Compassionate Brain FREE video event series, Dr. Rick Hanson invites you to join him and his seven guests to explore the profound implications of this cutting-edge science—and how you can use it to guide your own transformation.
Watch the introduction to the video series. More videos from Dr. Hanson’s site here.