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Self-compassion supports mental wellness through kindness, mindfulness and humanity

Have you ever noticed some days you may be extra hard on yourself?

Harsh thoughts are running through your head. Maybe you’re experiencing tough emotions from your rumination. Perhaps you’re finding it really hard to move through this moment in time.


Know that it’s ok to feel this way. We all do sometimes.


When you notice that you’re being hard on yourself, you can take a step back and respond with self-compassion.


Self-compassion – what is it? It’s way of turning inward in a productive way to support personal suffering or pain.


Researcher and expert in self-compassion, Kristin D. Neff suggests that practicing self-compassion has three parts: self-kindness, feelings of common humanity, and mindfulness.

1. Self-kindness is just what it implies, kindness to yourself. It’s a way of responding with understanding and kindness, rather than harshness and judgement. You’re giving yourself grace and extending the compassion you’d offer to others to yourself.


2. Common humanity encourages one to understand suffering and pain as a shared human experience. Rather than isolating, separating and marginalizing yourself, instead you can see yourself as part of a greater community of humans who are imperfect, fail and make mistakes.


3. Mindfulness requires one to be aware of their inner experience in the present moment. When you recognize your thoughts and emotions, you’ll be able to offer yourself accepting and non-judgmental self-compassion rather than over-identify with thoughts and emotions.


Practicing self-compassion offers many benefits, including reducing anxiety and stress, increasing trust and safety, soothing the fear response to judgement, improving life satisfaction and building fulfilling relationships.


There are several ways you can practice self-compassion, including journaling, positive self-talk, self-compassion meditation and challenging your inner critic. You can get started practicing self-compassion by trying these suggested exercises at self-compassion.org.


References

Crego, A., Yela, J. R., Riesco-Matías, P., Gómez-Martínez, M. Á., & Vicente-Arruebarrena, A. (2022). The Benefits of Self-Compassion in Mental Health Professionals: A Systematic Review of Empirical Research. Psychology Research and Behavior Management, 2599-2620.


Neff, K. D. (2009). The role of self-compassion in development: A healthier way to relate to oneself. Human development, 52(4), 211-214.


Neff, K. D. (2023). Self-compassion: Theory, method, research, and intervention. Annual review of psychology, 74, 193-218.


PsychCentral (September 2023). The Benefitsof Self-Compassion. https://psychcentral.com/blog/practicing-self-compassion-when-you-have-a-mental-illness


Self-Compassion, Dr. Kristin Neff. (September 2023). Self-Compassion Guided Practiceds and Exercise. https://self-compassion.org/category/exercises/

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