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Being compassionate with yourself

by Maya Hammer


Psychologists have found that self-compassion can impact health and happiness.  According to Kristin Neff, a Psychologist based in Austin, Texas, self-compassion means being kind to ourselves rather than being critical or judgmental.  She suggests that there are three elements to self-compassion: 


1)  Self-kindness – bringing warmth and understanding during challenges and difficult situations as opposed to berating or judging yourself.


2)  Common humanity – recognizing that suffering is part of life, that everyone experiences adversity, varying in degree and intensity.  Therefore, pain and suffering are universal as opposed to personal. 


3)  Mindfulness – being aware of thoughts and sensations without judgment, be it praise or criticism.  In this manner, you can let experiences arise and pass organically, without embellishing or suppressing them.


These principles of compassion can be applied during times of suffering.  In a difficult moment, Kristin Neff recommends saying to yourself:


“This is really difficult right now.”

“How can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?”


You can read more about self-compassion in Kristin Neff’s book Self Compassion:  Stop beating yourself up and leave insecurity behind or in Christopher Germer’s book The mindful path to self-compassion:  Freeing yourself from destructive thoughts and emotions


How compassionate are you with yourself?  Here’s a test of self-compassion.


One way to cultivate mindfulness and self-compassion is through meditation and contemplative practices.  Christopher Germer, a Psychologist and meditator has a great selection of free meditation downloads.



Maya Hammer is a psychotherapist who integrates meditation, yoga, and Ayurveda with western conventional psychology.  

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