Self-compassion is a way of relating to ourselves with kindness and acceptance in instances of pain, struggle, suffering or failure.
Kristin Neff defines compassion as consisting of three central components: mindfulness, common humanity and self-kindness.
Mindfulness is the foundation of self-compassion. It is the “awareness of present moment experience with acceptance.” Mindfulness asks: What am I experiencing right now?
It involves noticing what is happening, while it is happening, using all five senses. When we are mindful, we allow thoughts, emotions and sensations to enter our awareness without resistance or avoidance. Mindfulness focuses on the acceptance of experience. We open to suffering with a loving, spacious awareness. Mindfulness gives us the mental space and freedom to choose how to respond to a situation.
Common humanity involves understanding that our own experiences of pain, suffering, struggle, failure and hardship are part of the shared human experience. We are not alone. We are all interconnected. Everyone suffers without exception. We are all works-in-progress. We all make mistakes.
Self-kindness involves treating ourselves with the same care, kindness and understanding that we would offer to a friend we care about. We practice unconditional acceptance. We actively soothe and comfort ourselves. We support, encourage ourselves and protect ourselves from harm.
Self-compassion asks: What do I need right now? Do I need comforting, soothing, validating, protecting and/or motivating? Self-compassion says: “Be kind to yourself when you suffer.”
Both mindfulness and self-compassion allow us to live with less resistance to ourselves and our lives. We accept that things can be painful and we are kind to ourselves.
Self-Compassion: Break Exercise
The Center for Mindful Self-Compassion: www.centerformsc.org
Meditations | Chris Germer
Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff, Ph.D.
Prepared by Wally Lazaruk, January 2019