Psychologist Specializing in Healthier Relationships
Self-compassion is a response to our own suffering that elicits concern and tenderness for ourselves.
Self-compassion is a skill that can be learned, and involves calming and retraining the mind. Evoking kindness toward ourselves is a proven transformational practice. Empirically supported research has demonstrated that practicing self-compassion changes the brain and is strongly linked to well-being. Cultivating self-compassion improves life satisfaction, fosters greater post-traumatic growth and attachment security, and reduces depression, anxiety and shame. In addition, self-compassion improves the quality of intimate relationships.
Engaging self-compassionately enhances feelings of safety, allows us to engage with more vulnerability, and supports flexible and adaptive responses.
Compassion is a sensitivity to the suffering of self and others with a commitment to try to prevent and relieve it (Gilbert, 2017). A compassionate awareness involves recognizing pain as part of the human experience and aspiring to alleviate it. Compassion is comprised of multiple attributes and skills, and research consistently shows that compassionate motives organize the mind in ways that promote flourishing, connectedness, and well-being.
We can be compassionate to other people; we can be open and receptive to compassion from other people toward us; and we can learn to be compassionate toward ourselves. Paul Gilbert, Ph.D.,
a leading researcher in the science of compassion, has shown that when we are in the flow of compassion (feeling it toward others; receiving it from others; and generating it toward ourselves) we become oriented toward caring, responsive, and engaged behavior, all of which are essential in healthy relationships.
Depending on your life experience, you may believe that compassion is a weakness, an indulgence, or even foolish. Research indicates otherwise; turning toward another (or yourself) for support is a strength.