Self Compassion

Your mental health is an important part of your overall health and wellbeing. Good mental health can help you get through life’s challenges, to have healthy relationships with others, and to enjoy life. Problems with mental health are common, and not a sign of weakness. There are many practical things you can do to help support your mental health. Self-compassion is one aspect that may help.

Self-compassion is integral in many of the psychological therapies, most commonly arising in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). There are several elements that make up the construct of self-compassion. It may be helpful to review and reflect on what meaning these elements hold for you and how they might be integrated into your life.

Acknowledging your suffering and responding with kindness is at the core of self-compassion. The following are six strategies.

  1. Diffusion from harsh self-talk. Our minds are often quick to judge, often replaying the “I’m not good enough” story. Through identifying and then intentionally letting go of harsh self-judgement, we can unhook from these stories.
  2. Acceptance of the painful emotions that show up when life is difficult. If we can respond to our emotions with kindness, openness, and flexibility, we can make room for them, allowing them to be there without fighting and without running away. Acceptance is much kinder than taking drugs or alcohol to try to push them away or dropping out of important areas of life trying to escape our pain.
  3. Attention to the present moment. This is like dropping an anchor during an emotional storm, so that instead of getting swept away, we can take action, engage in life, do something effective to solve our problems, or at least be resilient in the face of our problems.
  4. Kindness. Being kind to ourselves during our pain and suffering. Consider what kind things you can say to yourself, what kind deeds and gestures you can do. Most of us are pretty good at being kind to others when they are suffering, and this approach allows us to turn that kindness inwards to ourselves.
  5. Validating our painful thoughts and feelings as normal and natural.  When life is difficult and we have all sorts of difficult thoughts, feelings, emotions, and memories, we often invalidate our experience. Taking the time to acknowledge that it’s normal and natural to have painful feelings when life is tough can be helpful.
  6. Connectedness. Often when we’re suffering we feel alone. It can be helpful to see how we have something in common with everybody else, that everybody suffers, and everyone finds life difficult at times. This can connect us to all the other human beings. Connectedness can also include reaching out to other people that you know are likely to respond with kindness and caring when they know that you’re hurting.

Take some time to consider the ways in which you can engage self-compassion. Take some time for yourself.


Harris, R. (2019). ACT Made Simple: An Easy-To-Read Primer on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (Second Edition). New Harbinger Publications.

Neff, K. D. (2011). Self-Compassion: The proven power of being kind to yourself. New York: William Morrow.

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