4/28/2020 Email Broadcast Compose
Self-compassion is a courageous act of self-care
As time goes on, it’s apparent that this pandemic is going to be more of a marathon than a
sprint. When looking forward, it’s important that we use our marathon-running skills, rather
than sprinting ones, to ensure we’re able to bounce back and flourish when life gets back
Self-compassion is a great tool to help you thrive during challenging times. Compassion is
a sensitivity to or awareness of the suffering of others and a desire to ameliorate it.1,2 Self-
compassion is focusing that awareness on ourselves and our own experiences.
By focusing our awareness on our internal dialogue, we can determine whether we’re
being self-compassionate or self-critical when speaking to ourselves. Some individuals
assert that self-criticism is necessary for motivation, and although it may have served as
that purpose for some, it’s important to know that self-compassion can support healthy
behaviours, well-being and resilience in difficult situations.3-6 Who would you work hardest
for: your biggest fan and loudest cheerleader, or your most aggressive and negative critic?
Self-compassion has three components: self-kindness, mindfulness and common
humanity.3 Self-kindness involves being intentional about how we treat ourselves and
adopting an attitude of support, warmth and acceptance.3 Self-kindness is best
considered to be treating oneself as a good friend. Think about the last conversation you
had with yourself after you made a mistake; were the words you used to speak to yourself
as kind as those you’d use with a friend?
Mindfulness involves having an awareness of what’s occurring in the present moment
while refraining from assessment or judgment of the experience.3 Mindfulness allows us to
recognize when practicing self-compassion would be beneficial.5
Lastly, common humanity is the knowledge that everyone makes mistakes and that
imperfection is something that everyone has in common. This knowledge can help debunk
the isolation that can accompany a mistake or disappointment in one’s performance or
Self-compassion is a gift to oneself and others; we can’t be gentle with others if we aren’t
gentle with ourselves.
To incorporate self-compassion into your life, try these practices:
Shift your self-talk
4/28/2020 Email Broadcast Compose
Think back to a time when you made a mistake or things didn’t turn out the way
you’d hoped. Try to remember how you felt and what your inner dialogue was like at
the time. Now, using the principles of self-compassion, reframe the experience for
yourself; write down what you would have told a friend in the same situation, remind
yourself that being human is about making mistakes, and refrain from judging
yourself harshly for your actions.
This type of practice can help you use more compassionate self-talk going forward.
Try self-compassion meditation
Apps like Headspace and Calm can help you with self-compassion meditation. You
can also visit Dr. Kristin Neff’s website to learn more. Another option would be to try
loving-kindness meditation – learn more about it here.
The word ‘should’ is often used when we’re being harsh with ourselves or regret
something. Pay attention to how you use it, and then try a compassionate reframe.
One phrase I find helpful is, “I did the best I could with the knowledge and resources
I had available at the time.”
For more mental health and wellness information and advice, visit i-matter.ca.
I Matter's Check Up from the Neck Up e-zine is written by Dr. Colleen Best, PhD, DVM.
Dr. Best is a consultant and educator focused on non-technical competencies, including
veterinarian-client communication, veterinary team performance, wellness and resilience.
She’s a certified compassion fatigue professional and is also trained in mental health first
aid and suicide intervention.
Generously sponsored by Hill's Pet Nutrition.
1. Sinclair S, Norris JM, McConnell SJ, et al. Compassion: a scoping review of the healthcare literature. BMC Palliative Care 2016, 15(1), 6.
2. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/compassion, Accessed May 6, 2019.
3. Neff KD, Germer C. The mindful self-compassion workbook. 2018. Guilford Press. New York, NY.
4. Magnus, C, Kowalski K, McHugh TL. The role of self-compassion in women's self-determined motives to exercise and exercise-related
outcomes. Self and identity 2010;9(4): 363-382.
5. Neff, KD. "Self‐compassion, self‐esteem, and well‐being." Social Personality Psych Compass 2011;5(1): 1-12.
6. Neff, KD. “The five myths of self-compassion.” 2015. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_five_myths_of_self_compassion
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