What is self compassion and why do you need it

Maybe you have heard the term «self-compassion» before, but if not, don’t fret: I’ve only just learned about this important concept now too! So if you’re new to the world of self-compassion or eager to learn a bit more about how it works and how you can implement it more in your life, read on:

The concept of «self-compassion» was pioneered by Dr. Kristin Neff, who has written many academic articles as well as a book about it. On top of that, she co-founded and is currently the board president of the nonprofit Center for Mindful Self-Compassion. What I’m trying to say is, she’s a real pro when it comes to Self-Compassion!

Definition of Self-Compassion

You probably know the feeling of compassion for other human beings or animals. Being empathetic, generous, and caring for another person who is suffering comes naturally to most humans. We are wired to share the pain with each other in order to lighten the burden!

Now when we talk about Self-Compassion, we talk about the same thing: Being mindful of suffering and having the urge to care for and share said suffering – but directed at ourselves and our own suffering. 

«Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, whoever said you were supposed to be perfect?»

– self-compassion.org

So, what being self-compassionate really means is being aware of your own suffering, what caused it, and then actively choosing to show yourself kindness over it. To realize you’re hurting and not beating yourself up over it but taking the same steps you would do when you show compassion to a fellow human; a person you love, even. 

RELATED: How to write a Gratitude journal

The Three Elements of Self-Compassion

Dr. Neff categorized three fundamental elements that define self-compassion. They are as follows:

1. Self-Kindness

Self-Kindness is being warm and loving towards yourself, especially when you’re experiencing hardship, sorrow, stress, or emotional pain. It’s being kind to yourself even if you know your own shortcomings and flaws – or rather, because of them.

2. Common Humanity

The realization that failure, suffering, and pain are all parts of the human experience and everyone experiences them is extremely important to be able to practice self-compassion.

3. Mindfulness

Being open to all our experiences and feelings and creating a balance between them is what we call mindfulness. Being mindful of your own emotions, letting them unfold without judging them good or bad, and most importantly, letting them pass is the third important ability that helps you being self-compassionate. 

Take the test

On Dr. Neffs website you can take a free test to see how good you are at practicing self-compassion, as well as some more tips on how to incorporate it more in your daily life. 

Take the test now

Personally, I know I still have a long way to go in being more kind and compassionate with myself. Learning about the three elements of self-compassion has already taught me a lot! 

What about you? Did you know about self-compassion before or have you only recently learned about it? Let me know in the comments below!


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Sources: Wikipedia, Dr. Kristin Neff