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  • Linda DuToit, LPC

What is Self-Compassion?

Updated: Jun 23, 2020

Treat yourself like you would treat your best friend.

Self-compassion is being kind to your SELF. It’s treating ourselves like we would treat a best friend. And it’s cutting ourselves a break rather than self-criticizing. There are three components that contribute to healthy self-compassion:

1. Self-Kindness – This is one of the most powerful coping mechanisms to help us deal with the challenges we face in life. Self-kindness involves being gentle and understanding with ourselves rather than harshly critical and judgmental. This includes stopping the constant self-judgement and negative internal self-talk. Action is required in order to exhibit self-kindness. This means comforting ourselves like we would a friend who is in need of help, a hug, or an encouraging thought. We don’t ignore our pain or difficulties. We care for and comfort ourselves in the moment to soothe our troubles minds. For our healing to occur, we must create warmth, gentleness and compassion.

2. Recognizing Our Common Human Experience – We are all in this world together. We are all imperfect, we all experience suffering, and we are all connected. Feelings of disappointment and inadequacy are common to everyone at some point. When we focus on our shortcomings and withdraw because of our inadequacies, our view becomes narrow – like tunnel vision. We may think “I’m the only one to ever feel this way,” which causes us to feel alone, isolated, insecure and unloved. We may separate ourselves from others, but our need for belonging is strong. The truth is, others have been put on this Earth to help us, and we are here to help others. We can share our failures and disappointments with others and build moments of togetherness rather than isolation.

3. Mindfulness –Mindfulness generally refers to non-judgmental acceptance of what is happening in the present moment. When it comes to self-compassion, mindfulness is a way to acknowledge that we are hurting. We have to face our pain before we can heal it. Our moments of suffering can be responded to with compassion rather than condemnation. We deserve a caring response, just like we would give to someone else. We acknowledge that we are going through a hard time, suffering emotionally, and that we are in pain. If you think about it, we often spend a lot of time dealing with a crisis (phone calls, appointments, etc.) but we don’t stop to recognize what we are feeling, comfort ourselves, gain perspective, restore balance, and refresh ourselves.

The goal of self-compassion isn’t to find a cure. The goal is to increase our capacity to care for ourselves.


Resource: Neff, Kristin. 2011. Self-Compassion – The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself. Harper Collins: New York.

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