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The Transformative Effects of Mindful Self-Compassion (


An explosion of research into self-compassion over the last decade has shown its benefits for well-being. Individuals who are more self-compassionate tend to have greater happiness, life satisfaction and motivation, better relationships and physical health, and less anxiety and depression. They also have the resilience needed to cope with stressful life events such as divorce, health crises, and academic failure, and even combat trauma.

What Is Self-Compassion?

Self-compassion involves treating yourself the way you would treat a friend who is having a hard time—even if your friend blew it or is feeling inadequate, or is just facing a tough life challenge. The more complete definition involves three core elements that we bring to bear when we are in pain: self-kindness, common humanity (the recognition that everyone make mistakes and feels pain), and mindfulness.

Mindfulness or Self-Compassion? Actually, Both

Given that mindfulness is a core component of self-compassion, it’s worth asking, “How do mindfulness and self-compassion relate to one another?” 

  • Mindfulness focuses primarily on acceptance of experience itself. Self-compassion focuses more on caring for the experiencer.
  • Mindfulness asks, “What am I experiencing right now?” Self-compassion asks, “What do I need right now?”
  • Mindfulness says, “Feel your suffering with spacious awareness.” Self-compassion says, “Be kind to yourself when you suffer.”

To read more of Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer's article, please click here.

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