top of page
  • Writer's pictureLuna

A Practical Guide to Self-Compassion

In these challenging times, it's easy to become overwhelmed by the feeling of helplessness. We can find ourselves surrounded by so much negativity and awful news that it feels like we don’t have any control over the storm around us. What can we do?

We start by helping ourselves, by developing and giving ourself more compassion and more kindness. We hear this word "self-compassion" kicked around a lot but what is it really?

Self-compassion is actually a simple concept that we can sum up in just six words:

"Acknowledge your suffering, respond with kindness."

Now, obviously those six words don’t fully encapsulate the rich, multi-layered, complex human experience of self-compassion, but they do summarise the two main “themes":

  1. Mindfully acknowledging and validating the painful thoughts, feelings, and situations you’re dealing with.

  2. Being kind and caring to yourself, supporting yourself with kindness, courage and wisdom as you deal with the difficult challenges life is giving you.

Practicing self-compassion can be life-changing. It’s like having a supportive friend with you whenever needed and it has transformed my life and the lives of my many clients.

The HOW of self-compassion...

There are three simple steps. Think of developing self-compassion like building a muscle; it gets stronger the more you exercise it. One of my favorite methods for developing this "muscle" is adapted from Kristin Neff, a psychologist who studies self-compassion. It follows these three steps:

  1. Put your hand on your chest to activate a calming response and then acknowledge the suffering you're feeling (e.g., I feel overwhelmed, sad, scared, fearful, abandoned, unworthy, etc.). By naming an emotion, you activate the cognitive part of the brain.

  2. Then, we need to validate and normalize. For example, you might say to yourself, “it makes sense to me that I feel [fill in the blank] because [validating reasons]. Other people would likely feel the same way if they were experiencing this too [normalizing]."

  3. In the final step, you want to check in with your needs. Ask yourself in a loving tone what you need right in this moment. I might say, “I know this feeling is temporary, and I am going to get through it. Maybe I’m tired right now and need a break or to eat something.” Sometimes, it’s simple like that. Other times, you may realize you need to get some support. The point of these steps is that they activate a soothing response.

It is important to note here that some people may not have experienced genuine compassion from others, and in turn may find it difficult to show self-compassion. If you're struggling with identifying compassion in your life, here are some things to try:

  • Strengthen relationships with people who are likely to be compassionate: close friends, a loving partner, or a therapist.

  • Find groups where compassionate support is likely, such as a support group, religious group, self-help group, or simply a conversation group.

  • Look for examples of compassionate behavior in the world around you, including in movies, books, and in the people you know.

  • First practice being compassionate to others, and then imagine what it would be like to receive that same compassion for yourself.

Excerpted from: © Russ Harris 2017

Excerpted from: The Empowered Highly Sensitive Person, by Julie Bjelland

25 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page