Self-compassion, where one extends compassion to themselves in instances of struggle, failure, or inadequacy, can be a tremendous therapeutic tool. Instead of ignoring or piling on to pain, it's reminding yourself how difficult this is right now, and asking yourself what you can do to comfort yourself.
Dr. Kristin Neff, the leading researcher of self-compassion, has identified three key components to self-compassion:
- self-kindness - being warm and kind toward yourself in times of personal failings instead of critical and judgmental.
- common humanity - recognizing that we all make mistakes. Suffering is part of the human experience.
- mindfulness - a non-judgmental, receptive mind state that allows you to have a more balanced approach to emotions
The more you open your heart to disappointments, frustrations, personal failings, and imperfections, the kinder you are to yourself and others.
In the therapy room, I use self-compassion on client's who are intensely critical of themselves. I often ask questions like, "How can you be kinder to yourself?" or "What would you say to a friend who was experiencing the same thing?" I'm aiming to pull the client out of their destructive thinking cycle and introduce a more compassionate and kinder way of thinking.
Test it out for yourself. Take the quiz to see how self-compassionate you are.