• Stress management tip: Practice self-compassion

    March 15, 2017 | curtrosengren
  • [Back to How to stop stressing so you can change the world]

    If ever there were a time for us to be compassionate with ourselves, this is it. Any time we’re faced with events that kick up fear, or anger, it’s a good signal that it’s time to push pause and ask, “How can I show myself some compassion?”

    Research shows that individuals practicing self-compassion are less depressed, less anxious, happier, and feel a greater self-worth. Think any of that might be helpful in the face of the bumps, bruises, and stresses as you advocate for positive change?

    Kristin Neff, PhD is the Godmother of Self-Compassion (OK, that’s not actually her title – it’s just how I think of her. She’s really a researcher who focuses on self-compassion). As she describes it, self-compassion has three main components:

    Self-kindness (versus self-judgment)

    This doesn’t need much explanation – stop beating yourself up and be kind to yourself.

    Common humanity (versus isolation)

    When things go wrong, we have a tendency to make it entirely about us. But the reality is, things going sideways is just a normal part of the human experience. This aspect of self-compassion opens the door to help you get out of your little bubble, recognize a common connection, and stop making your trouble mean something about you exclusively.

    Mindfulness (versus Over-identification)

    This is about maintaining an awareness of challenging emotions while not getting caught in the all-consuming drama of over-identifying with them. Mindfulness of emotions involves holding those emotions in your awareness, acknowledging them without judgment, but not getting carried away by them.

    (And yes, I recognize that this isn’t a magic wand step – it’s pretty much a lifetime’s work.)

    When I suggest practicing compassion, I’m often met with a look of mild confusion and a question. “How?” Kristin Neff has a good set of self-compassion exercises on her web site to get you started. 

    I’m such a fan of self-compassion, and it’s so outside the realm of what gets reinforced in the culture we all swim in, that it’s worth sharing some videos from Kristin Neff to guide you on the self-compassion path.

    2-minute how to practice self-compassion

    Learning Self-Compassion

    Self-Compassion (at Action for Happiness)

    Science of Self-Compassion


    And finally, here are some guided self-compassion meditations on Kristin Neff’s site. 

    Book suggestions:


    The Mindful Way to Self-Compassion

    Embracing Your Inner Critic

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