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Filed Under: Educational
How to Practice Self-Compassion

How to Practice Self-Compassion

By Michelle Lunger

Did you know there is a format for practicing self-compassion? Dr. Kristen Neff, PHD actually created a format for this practice. She is named a “pioneer in the study of self-compassion,” as she was the first person who put a definition to the practice and made it measurable. She currently has an 8-week program that teaches self-compassion skills in daily life called ‘Mindful Self-Compassion’. Dr. Kristen Neff says, “with self-compassion, we give ourselves the same kindness as we would give a good friend.”

Self compassion isn’t just about self-love and self-care. It is about identifying your emotions and feelings, acknowledging them, feeling them, and remembering that you are not alone and that emotions and feelings are human and necessary to feel. It can be easy to ignore your pain but what if instead of judging ourselves and criticizing ourselves, we acknowledge that we are struggling? We can then learn how to show up for ourselves and support ourselves especially when confronted by our personal failures or shortcomings. Self-compassion teaches us to treat ourselves unconditionally- with love, kindness, understanding, care, and comfort. It also reminds us that mistakes, misfortunes, losses, limitations, and shortcomings are a part of life. These are human qualities and are a part of us all. Without our losses we would not have made it to our successes. 

What makes it particularly hard for me is that I don’t tend to leave much room, if any, for other options- like mistakes or failure. If things go my way I am so proud of myself, but when things don’t go my way, I find it hard to be proud or I will begin to tear myself down in those moments of “failure.” However, we deserve the same amount of kindness no matter what happens because shit happens, and it’s a part of life. That’s what self-compassion highlights. 


According to Dr. Kristen Neff, practicing self-compassion has 3 main components:

  1. Mindfulness

  2. Self-Kindness

  3. Common Humanity


Mindfulness: Identifying, acknowledging, and accepting where you are at. Ask yourself can I notice discomfort? Can I separate myself from this situation?

Self-Kindness: Asking yourself what do I need right now? What do I need to hear? How can I comfort, care, and support myself at this moment?

Common Humanity: Acknowledging that all emotions are temporary. That the circumstances and what suffering is itself is not unique to any human. It helps us remember and remind ourselves of our humanity. Common humanity reminds us that we are not alone. 


Overall, practicing self-compassion starts by learning to be mindful about the way you are feeling, being kind to yourself, and reminding yourself that you are not alone. It definitely isn’t an easy practice, but it is a practice that we all deserve. The 3 components give ourselves a format and the space for putting this practice into play. Next time you notice that you’re judging yourself or being overly critical, practice self-compassion and see if it makes a difference in the way you feel about yourself. If you enjoyed this blog post about self-compassion and Dr. Kristen Neff’s practice, definitely check out her website and book linked below. Lastly, remember that you deserve the same love and care you give to others.  


Dr. Kristen Neff’s Website:

Her New Book, “Fierce Self-Compassion”


Her Ted Talk: “The Space Between Self-Esteem and Self-Compassion”