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 Self-compassion.org
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.