JTW- Self-Compassion

It is a struggle being self-compassionate. Sometimes, it is easier to be compassionate to others than to ourselves. We humans tend to be self-critical and self-judgmental. Often, we are very hard on ourselves and adhere to unrealistic expectations. Self-compassion is being caring, kind, and understanding toourselves when we fail, suffer, and/or feel inadequate instead of denying our pain or beating ourselves up with harsh judgment and criticism. We are kind, accepting and understanding toward ourselves when confronted with our shortcomings.

Sometimes we may think we have to be hard on ourselves to get things done or be successful or to grow but in fact the opposite is true. When we are hard on ourselves it is more difficult to succeed. Self-pressure creates stress while self-empathy and self-kindness reduces stress. Self-compassion is a predictor of enhanced mental health. Research supports that people who practice self-compassion experience less depression, less anxiety, less perfectionistic tendencies, higher life satisfaction, more social connectedness, and lower blood pressure (Shapiro, 2005).

Self-compassion involves not avoiding or denying the painful feelings that come with our failures, inadequacies and shortcomings. Negative feelings are a part of the human experience. Allow yourself to feel them while realizing failure is impermanent, and everyone has failures- you are not alone. People who are self-compassionate recover more quickly from failure, tend to learn from their failures, and become more motivated to succeed.

Although there are some people who seem more naturally self-compassionate, self-compassion can be learned. Here are fiveways to learn and practice self-compassion:

1. Do something good for your body. Place your fingers upon your head and give yourself a gentle head massage, don’t forget to massage the back of your head, and with your fingers gently pull different parts of your ears.
2. Write a letter to yourself. Think of a situation that created some emotional pain (some mistake you made, anembarrassing situation, a job loss, relationship conflict, etc.) What would you say to yourself from a self-compassionate perspective?
3. Offer yourself encouragement. Affirm your strengths and successes.
4. Practice mindfulness. Be in the moment. Be present. Do not deny or avoid the painful feelings but remember you are more than the experience. Experiences come and go but you are not the experience. You are the observer of the experience.
5. Practice some self-compassionate statements like: “I am enough”, “I am worthy of loving kindness”, “I have the right to make mistakes”, “No one is perfect, and neither am I am.”


Show the same compassion and caring for yourself as you might show to a friend who may have made the same mistake or experienced a similar shortcoming. Be as kind to yourself as you would be to a close friend.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Paul Bokker Ph.D., LPC/S, NCC, BCC, NBC-HWC, BC-TMH