We are all familiar with the term compassion. We are easily able to look at other and feel care and concern for their suffering. Self-compassion on the other hand, sounds foreign and may even seem wrong. To understand self-compassion, it may be helpful to first define compassion.
sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.
"the victims should be treated with compassion"
pity , sympathy , feeling , fellow feeling , empathy , understanding , care , concern , solicitude ,
solicitousness, sensitivity , tender-heartedness, soft-heartedness, warm-heartedness,
warmth , love , brotherly love , tenderness , gentleness , mercy , mercifulness, leniency ,
lenience , tolerance , consideration , kindness , humanity , humaneness, kind-heartedness,
charity , benevolence
While it can be easier to show love, care and concern for others than for ourselves, there is
some indication that our self-talk and the way we treat ourselves has an impact on our mental
Self-compassion rests on the idea that care, understanding and kindness can be applied
to ourselves. This may sound weird. Some of us are more comfortable judging ourselves, or
thinking we are a failure. It may feel odd to think about accepting ourselves and offering care to
In the counseling room, I often ask clients how they would treat a good friend if they were in a
similar situation. This idea of thinking outside of themselves helps us see how we treat
ourselves much harder than we would a loved one. The first step is noticing someone is
suffering, in this case...that may be you.
Dr. Kristin Neff is a self-compassion researcher and defines self-compassion as having three
1. Self-kindness, or withholding judgement from oneself.
2. Recognizing humanity, or the fact that all people are imperfect and all people have
3. Mindfulness, or taking a non-judgmental position with our thoughts and feelings, that is
not ignoring them or blowing them up (self-compassion.org).
Understanding how to be kind to oneself is only part of the journey. The more challenging part is
living out self-compassion one
Sara Hoekstra | MA, LLPC