In my coaching practice I have been struck by the number of people who are unbelievably hard on themselves. That is why an article by Kristin Neff caught my attention: Self Compassion: The Key to Psychological Well-Being.  You can read the full article by clicking on the title.

A short version of her message goes like this:

  1. There is often a disconnect between feeling and acting compassionate toward others and doing so toward yourself.
  2. Caregivers who care for themselves are less likely to suffer from compassion fatigue.  When you meet your own needs, you will come from a replenished and much more loving mind-set, and that means you will have more to give.
  3. There is a difference between self-esteem and self-compassion.  Self-esteem is judging yourself positively – “This is me; I am good.”  Self-compassion has nothing to do with judgment or evaluation.  Self-compassion is a way of relating to yourself kindly and with concern.
  4. There is mounting evidence that the emotional component of self-compassion is linked to our chemistry.  When you give yourself compassion you release oxytocin, that feel-good hormone that makes us feel safe, secure, loved, and accepted.  When you give yourself a hug to support yourself, when you’re kind to yourself, or generally when you just really care about yourself,  you are actually changing your biochemistry.
  5. There are spiritual dimensions to self-compassion, but I’ll save those for a follow-up post.

Meanwhile, what are some ways you can show compassion to yourself?  A deep breath?  A hand over the heart (self hug)?  An affirmation?  Releasing judgment?  Acknowledging that, like everyone else, you are a child of God, whose every grace is available to you for the receiving?