Why Self-Compassion Matters, and How to Develop It.

Why Self-Compassion Matters, and How to Develop It

If something goes wrong in our lives we often berate ourselves with self-critical thoughts like I am bad, I am useless, I am stupid etc. and this can have a negative effect on mental wellbeing.

However, if we think about something bad that happened to us during the day and write ourselves a letter as if we are a compassionate friend trying to help relieve our suffering then this can have a very different result and can help us recover better.

Please watch the video of Stanford health psychologist Kelly McGonigal, PhD who is presenting this idea at the 2011 Stanford University Happiness Conference:

The following is a definition of self-compassion from Wikipedia:

Self-compassion is extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering. Neff has defined self-compassion as being composed of three main components – self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.[1]

Self-kindness: Self-compassion entails being warm towards oneself when encountering pain and personal shortcomings, rather than ignoring them or hurting oneself with self-criticism.

Common humanity: Self-compassion also involves recognizing that suffering and personal failure is part of the shared human experience.

Mindfulness: Self-compassion requires taking a balanced approach to one’s negative emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated. Negative thoughts and emotions are observed with openness, so that they are held in mindful awareness. Mindfulness is a non-judgmental, receptive mind state in which individuals observe their thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them.[2] Conversely, mindfulness requires that one not be “over-identified” with mental or emotional phenomena, so that one suffers aversive reactions.[3] This latter type of response involves narrowly focusing and ruminating on one’s negative emotions.[4]

This extract and associated references can be found at:


For more information about self-compassion, including videos and exercises to try please view Audrey Neff’s website:


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