Self-Compassion: A Therapeutic Technique for Negative Thoughts & Trauma - Group Therapy LA
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Self-Compassion: A Therapeutic Technique for Negative Thoughts & Trauma

Self-Compassion: A Therapeutic Technique for Negative Thoughts & Trauma
May 31, 2022

By Dr. Cara Gardenswartz and Dr. Arezoo Esfahani

Self-compassion has been shown to strengthen the parts of the brain that make people happier, more resilient, and more attuned to others. It helps comfort negative emotions in the present, permanently heal painful memories from the past, and change negative core beliefs.

Three components of self-compassion:

Self-Kindness vs. Self-judgment

Self-compassion entails being kind, gentle and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, are imperfect, or feel inadequate. Self-compassionate people are kind with themselves when confronted with all these painful experiences instead of critical or unsympathetic.

Common Humanity vs. Isolation

Self-compassion involves recognizing that suffering, pain, weakness, and imperfection are all part of the shared human experience – something that we all experience rather than something that happens to “me” alone.

Mindfulness vs. Over-identification:

Mindfulness is a self-compassion practice that encourages people be in present moment instead of ruminating about their past or worrying about their future. The technique involves observing our thoughts instead of suppressing them or overly identifying with them.

Self-Compassion Exercises from

Below are two exercises we recommend for our clients to practice and learn about self-compassion. They are short and simple but can be quite healing. They can be applied to present moment or toward a traumatic or distressing memory.

  1. Guided (audio) Self-Compassion Break
    This 5-minute guided exercise can be used to practice the three aspects of self-compassion in the moment you need it most:
  2. Questions to Evoke Self-Compassion
    How would you treat a friend who is struggling in life? How would you respond to them? How would you typically treat yourself in this situation? How you think things might change if you respond to yourself in the same way you respond to a close friend in times of suffering? Why not treating yourself like a close friend and see what happens?

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