Updated: May 16
Self-compassion is an essential skill - it helps us overcome personal hardship, recognize what we want, and learn how to better support others who are struggling. Inspired by Dr Kristen Neff’s work on this subject, we’ve put together a list of ten components that we think make up a truly self-compassionate mindset. Regardless of whether or not you try to practice self-compassion in your daily life, this list may be valuable next time you’re finding it difficult to be kind towards yourself.
Self-compassion doesn’t mean being egotistical, ignoring the ways that you have acted poorly, or pitying yourself for the tough situation you might be in. Instead, self-compassion is a way of extending kindness to yourself when you are suffering, are feeling inadequate, or have acted in a way that you regret. There are many different strategies for practicing self-compassion, and some strategies will be easier for you than others. Try some out next time you are feeling low and see which ones are most helpful!
Here are ten of the most valuable components of self-compassion:
(1) Self-friendship: treat yourself at least as well as you would treat a friend who is going through the same situation; taking the outside perspective can often allow us to see the support we truly need from ourselves.
(2) Worthiness: remember that you have value (as all people do), and that your happiness and preferences matter.
(3) Self-talk: notice when you are saying something mean to yourself (aloud, or in your head), and rephrase it in a gentler, kinder, more considerate way.
(4) Connectedness: reflect on the fact that, whatever challenge you are facing, there are others who are also facing a similar challenge. You are not alone in your pain.
(5) Change: note that everything changes with time. If you are dealing with feelings that are difficult to stand at this moment, they will subside. This too shall pass. Things are usually not as important or permanent as they seem to us in the moment that we are focused on them.
(6) Self-empathy: orient towards yourself with tenderness, understanding and compassion, especially when you are suffering. Take on the perspective towards yourself that you would towards a child or loved one that was hurting.
(7) Self-acceptance: remember that you, like all people, will always have flaws, and that’s okay. Being imperfect is just part of being human. You can fully accept yourself, flaws and all, and still aim to continuously improve.
(8) Self-patience: note that everyone has their off days, including you. You’ll have times when you mess things up, don’t get anything done, act in ways you regret, and so on. Be patient with yourself, as that usually allows us to move past your struggles more quickly than punishing yourself.
(9) Self-like: remember all the good things about you. Remember your greatest strengths. Remember why other people like and love you. There are good reasons to like yourself, but you may need to actively work to remember them.
(10) Self-observation: notice how you are actually doing (self-compassion meditations can help with this). Carefully observe the difficult thoughts you are having without trying to escape them: what words run through your mind? How exactly do you feel, in your mind and in your body? Being mindful can allow you to understand what you are feeling and wanting in a non-judgmental manner.
Are you already practising some of these ten components of self-compassion? Which ones could you adopt next time you are struggling to view yourself kindly? If you’re interested in self-compassion, you might want to check out Dr Kristen Neff’s self-compassion scale, which tests how self-compassionate you are!
We also have a full podcast episode about self-compassion that you may like:
Click here to access other streaming options and show notes.