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Mindful Self Compassion: A Life-Changing Practice

Mindful Self Compassion: A Life-Changing Practice

Updated on May 27, 2022

Reviewed by Katina Tarver, MA (Mental Health and Wellness Counseling) , Life Coach

Mindful Self Compassion A Life-Changing Practice

Mindful Self Compassion is a beautiful practice of self-healing. Do you come across failures? Of course, yes; we all do. Still, these failures make you sad and leave you feeling lost and defeated. 

What if you get someone by your side in this low phase? One who can really understand you, who wants to genuinely help you. And who can be such a person except you? Yes!

‘When you are compassionate with yourself, you trust in your soul which you let guide your life.’

– John O’Donohue

Thus, mindful self-compassion is about being with yourself when you need it most. So that you can embrace your soul and feel your life.

Let’s dig into the concepts to make them clearer.

Mindful Self Compassion Infographic

Mindful Self Compassion A Life-Changing Practice
Mindful Self Compassion A Life-Changing Practice

What is Mindful Self Compassion?

Mindful self-compassion is a blend of mindful and self-compassion skills. It is a self-healing practice of being aware of yourself and having self-compassion with this awareness.

Think about the last time you got upset. Maybe, it was because of a failure. Things might have not turned out well or, at least, as per your expectations. So, what did you do? Had you pat your back to calm yourself down and consoled yourself to rise again? 


Instead, you blamed yourself and started self-criticism. Thus, it smashed your remaining self-confidence. And this is the same for all. We often act too rude for ourselves, the way we would never deal with a friend. 

On the contrary, we are the ones who need our support and belief more than anyone else. The unconditional belief, kindness, and love that we crave can be fulfilled by ourselves only. This practice is what we call mindful self-compassion (MSC).

How Do We Define Mindful Self Compassion?

The developers of the Mindful Self Compassion process define it beautifully –

‘Mindful Self-Compassion sees us taking both of these ideas and combining them. So we’re using the sense of awareness and presence developed with mindfulness, and applying it to support our emotional development for self-compassion.’ 

(Germer and Neff, 2012)

Thus, mindful self-compassion is a psychological practice. In this, you shift your attention from others to yourself and befriend yourself.

Processes Involved in Mindful Self Compassion –

You can observe these in those people around who can wonderfully manage every situation and make it better.

  1. Self-awareness.
  2. Connection with oneself.
  3. Observance of one’s pain.
  4. Identification of its cause.
  5. It’s acknowledgment.
  6. Analyzing one’s state.
  7. Responding to it like a friend.
  8. Being kind. Not judging oneself.
  9. Seeing oneself as a human. Remember, humans, are imperfect.
  10. Have a balanced insight.
  11. Supporting oneself instead of acting carping.

Thus, mindful self-compassion is a state of mind that is practiced to strike a chord with your inner self.

Components of Mindful Self Compassion

The term consists of two words – mindful and self-compassion. These combine to give them meaning. Let’s understand these to dive deep into the practice.


It is the state of being conscious or aware.

Elements of mindfulness involve –
  • Self-awareness.

You first get conscious about yourself. It’s about hearing your inner whisper. This lets you realize your hidden feelings and emotions.

  • Being in the present moment.

We all get lost in the outer chaos of the world. However, we need to regain our composure and feel our immediate presence to be mindful. 

  • Exploring one’s feelings and analyzing the actions.

Now, we are actually aware of ourselves and the environment. So, in this calm state, we can easily explore our feelings and actions.


Being kind towards oneself in hard times rather than self-criticism.

Elements of self-compassion involve –
  • Self-kindness.

As the term describes itself, it is kindness for oneself. This is born naturally. For instance, when you see someone in need, you can’t just enforce compassion for them in the heart. It emerges internally.

Likewise, when you see your suffering, you should genuinely empathize with yourself. The ‘stiff upper lip’ mentality often harms.

  • Common humanity.

Generally, we put hard times as something of ‘always occurs with me only!’ mentality. However, failure is something humane. Everyone has his or her own failings. 

So, NEVER isolate yourself. Connect yourself with the larger Universe and feel this divine bliss.

  • A balanced view of the situation.

Often, we have an extreme vision of the situation. Either we count it as too easy to pay any heed or simply exaggerate it. But a balanced view lets us understand the real state. By this, we can make the right move at the right time. 

Thus, mindful self-compassion is about being aware of it. And being kind to ourselves with this awareness.

Mindful Self Compassion: You Can See It Around You!

When life brings you in trouble, your approach makes the difference. You can easily embrace the wonderful way of Mindful Self Compassion to enlighten every darkroom of your life. 

Let’s take some practical instances.

1.  You are a writer. For some time, you have faced a cut down in your productivity. This, of course, disturbs you mentally.

Thus, you can just blame yourself. Call yourself lazy and get under pressure. Hence, they end up being burned out.

Or else, you can choose the mindful path to self-compassion. With this, you try to identify the cause behind the situation. Simultaneously, you work upon your skills. 

You give it some time. It will calm you down and reduce your anxiety. Thus, it boosts your productivity level.

2.  You had a breakup. This made you really upset. So, you naturally felt a need for support. But the first one there was you and only you could help you out.

Hence, you decided to support yourself as a friend would. In this situation, would you call your friend ugly or stupid? No.

So, you behaved the way you would with a pal. You calmed yourself, made yourself feel the warmth. Pointed out the pros of getting out of a toxic relationship. Thus, you felt good and moved on for the better.

3.  You couldn’t perform well in a job interview. So, you feel stupid, unable, and undeserving to achieve anything. This makes you even more upset. You lose your motivation to try further. 

You can choose to continue in this state. Instead, you decide to have a kind approach to yourself. So, you recognize the immediate situation. Calm down and encourage yourself, being your own good friend.

Hence, you analyze your strengths and hone your skills. Thus, get motivated enough to move further. So, you try again and, of course, get what you really deserve.

Thus, slight self-support can work wonders. We can simply embrace the practice in our daily lives and make a good difference.

History of Mindful Self Compassion

Mindful and self-compassion processes have been practiced by the saints from ancient times. World philosophers equally emphasized it from time to time.

But the credit of successful integration of the two skills and its exposure to the western sciences goes to the two eminent names in the field of mental well-being.

First, the famous therapist Christopher K. Germer. He works in the noted fields of mindfulness and psychotherapy. Another is the pioneering researcher Kristen Neff. She is the leader in the line of self-compassion.

The crux of their powerful work can be understood with the basic points drawn from it.

What Does The Research Conclude?

Their insightful theory and research address self-compassion in the light of mindfulness and psychotherapy. 

It says –

  • There is a link in wisdom and compassion in Psychotherapy.
  • Mindful Self Compassion is a kind of cognitive therapy.
  • It grows self-compassion.
  • Thus, Mindful Self Compassion reduces stress and depressive episodes.
  • This makes it an aid to emotional healing. Also, it boosts our mental abilities. 

Here is an analysis to understand its effects.

Effects of Mindful Self Compassion

Effects of Mindful Self Compassion in various aspects of our daily lives. 

Vision for yourselfAcceptanceRejection
Physical healthHealthy habits. Like – exercise, a good diet, meditation, etc.Unhealthy habits. Like – smoking, alcohol, drug addiction, etc.
Mental healthRelaxed.Calm.
Emotional resilience.
Emotional rigidity.
Or, fragility.
Intrapersonal relationshipAcceptance
Positive exploration
Interpersonal relationshipHealthy relationships
Positive interaction
Toxic relationships
Mutual blaming
Negative interaction
Stress managementSelf-analyzationAnger or self-pity
Dealing with mental stressMindfulness-based stress reductionAnxiety and depression, hurting tendency
Vision for lifeNeutral and well directedNegative and random

So, we can clearly see the significance of this practice. 

Mindful Self Compassion: The Scientific Approach

Now, you might be thinking about the science behind this self-healing process. Take it as the physiology of self-compassion vs self-criticism.

Here it is –

  • With self-criticism, we make things worse.
  • In this stance, our biological state affects our psychological response.
  • This activates the threat defense system of our brain.
  • It increases the levels of Cortisol (stress hormone) in our body.
  • This puts stress physically and mentally.
  • Triggers anxiety and depression.
  • Thus, we act as our own foe.

However, mindful self-compassion improves the whole situation.

  • It activates our self-caring system.
  • This sets off the release of ‘happy hormone’, i.e., oxytocin.
  • It subsides the threat response.
  • Hence, it protects us from harming actions, such as fight-flight freeze or rumination response.
  • We feel calm and get relaxed.
  • Thus, with Mindful Self Compassion, we can perform better. We grow in the physical, mental, and emotional fronts.

So, tell this to yourself every time you self-criticize – ‘While criticizing myself, I just lose. With support, I can grow.’

As we can draw the point, these practices have an effect on our nerves and sinews. Now, you might muse about the link between the two processes.

There is a clear link between mindfulness and self-compassion in Psychotherapy. Mindfulness identifies your experiences and problems. Self-compassion provides a solution to your needs.  

We can also see it in the light of the popular Yin-Yang cycle.

Mindful Self Compassion: Yin Yang Cycle

YIN (covert or soul) actionsYANG (overt or world) actions
Be aware of yourself. Comforting, soothing, and validating practice.Being motivated. Rising above your fears to take action.

Hence, there is no question of ‘this or that?’. Instead, we need ‘both’ for effective self-healing. 

Mindful Self Compassion Program

‘Caring for others requires caring for oneself.’

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama

The Mindful Self Compassion program is quite simple, making it intelligible for all. However, if you want to learn it professionally, there are enough scopes. You can easily go for the mindful self-compassion training program. It is introduced by the developers of this therapy. 

You will learn –

  1. How to be kind to yourself
  2. Easy emotional resilience
  3. Process of self-motivation
  4. Transforming difficult relations
  5. The Mindful Self Compassion practice with its theory and research
  6. How to be your teacher for life
  7. How to teach Mindful Self Compassion

Who will find it useful?

  1. Everyone who wants to grow, be it on the physical, mental, social, or emotional front.
  2. Those having emotional issues.
  3. People who want to help others. 
  4. Especially therapists, coaches, counselors, teachers, parents, etc.

We all need it to bloom our soul. Our mind is a center for mindful wisdom and compassion. It is the crux of self-growth.

Is Mindful Self Compassion really effective? The efficiency of the practice has been proved from time to time. Still, what really matters is your attitude. Just believe in it. Don’t take it as a task to be done. Instead, enjoy the process. By and by, you will see its relevance in today’s chaotic life.

Benefits of Mindful Self Compassion

‘You have been criticizing yourself for years. And it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself. And see what happens.’

– Louise L. Hay

A good habit can make a good life. Mindful self-compassion is one such positive habit. It is beneficial to us in many ways –

Physical aspect

  1. This makes you more self-caring.
  2. You tend to involve more in healthy habits. So, you have the motivation to exercise, meditate, etc. 
  3. You cut down unhealthy practices like smoking, drinking, drugs, etc.
  4. It prevents stress attacks. 
  5. Thus, it regulates your blood pressure, heart, brain, and nervous functions.
  6. It makes you more energetic.
  7. Hence, it promotes a healthy lifestyle.

Mental aspect

  1. It is the first move to emotional healing.
  2. This enhances your emotional health.
  3. Boosts natural happiness.
  4. You don’t need someone else by your side every time as you yourself become your best supporter.
  5. Keeps you relaxed.
  6. Reduces anxiety.
  7. Prevents depression.
  8. Decreases the release of stress hormones. Thus, it triggers a self-soothing response.
  9. It provides positive psychological strengths.
  10. It includes optimism, initiative, and higher emotional control.

Social aspect

  1. Healthier relationship functions.
  2. Better empathetic tendencies.
  3. Improves altruism.
  4. You will be thankful for your life instead of blaming things.
  5. Good interpersonal interaction.
  6. Improves your overall well-being.

Thus, you should have mindfulness-based stress reduction and compassion practices.

Myths About Mindful Self Compassion

We often find ourselves puzzled among all the false notions around a concept. Thus, before proceeding further, let’s bust some of the myths associated with Mindful Self Compassion.

Does ‘Mindful Self Compassion’ make us weak?

No. Mindful Self Compassion does not at all make you weak. Instead, it lets you focus on your strengths. You don’t overthink, over-analyze, and overreact. Thus, you neither repress nor exaggerate your pain. This makes you stronger. 

Is it like self-pity? 

In Mindful Self Compassion, you acknowledge the pain as it is and pick an upbeat way. So, you will never say – ‘Oh poor me. I can’t.’ Instead, you will respond – ‘I’m strong. I can.’ Thus, it is perfectly the opposite of self-pity.

Isn’t ‘Mindful Self Compassion’ self-indulgence?

No, you don’t ignore or refuse to accept the situation in Mindful Self Compassion. At the same time, you don’t blame yourself to make the affairs worse. This is a long-term process of self-growth, not a random move of self-indulgence to ignore the present.

Don’t you make excuses with ‘Mindful Self Compassion’?

Mindful self-compassion lets you have a mature perspective. It is a brave move of admitting your mistakes. Thus, you take full responsibility for the situation, so that you can fight back with a motivated spirit.

So, don’t be confused with all the misconceptions. It’s simple – you need to be kind inside to be strong outside.

How to Practice Mindful Self Compassion?

‘Having compassion starts and ends with having compassion for all those unwanted parts of ourselves.’

– Pema Chodron

You can acquire Mindful Self Compassion in your daily lives in certain ways. This includes practices, exercises, guided meditations, etc. Let’s know more about them.

Mindful Self Compassion Exercises

Here are some simple self-enabled exercises for you.

1.  Write yourself kind letters

  • Write letters to yourself, addressing yourself as a suffering friend.
  • Share, comfort, and motivate yourself.
  • Make it a habit. Write at least once in a while, maybe, a letter weekly.

2.  Keep a self-compassion journal

  • Maintain a journal.
  • Write your daily feelings in it.
  • Include your good memories in the journal in the form of pictures or memorabilia.
  • Go through it when you feel sad.

3.  Practice ‘Your goals’ exercise

  • In a paper, write down all your goals.
  • Add both – the long term and the short term ones.
  • Visualize these.
  • Plan your actions.
  • Motivate yourself.
  • You will feel better with a goal to focus

4.  Motivate with critical self-talk

  • Close your eyes and take a deep breath.
  • Now focus on your experience components.
  • Analyze your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations.
  • With this, direct your thoughts.
  • Realize these experiences.
  • Thus, motivate yourself to move ahead.

5.  Take a self-compassion break

  • Being your own friend is completely natural.
  • Pat yourself or talk about your fears.
  • Spend quality time with your own self.
  • Do what you like most, like your hobbies.
  • Listen to your inner self, that is, your very soul.

Guided meditations

Meditation is the practice of being aware of your inner self. There are certain ways and techniques for this. It will provide you with a soothing experience.

You can surely start Mindful Self Compassion meditations under the guidance of the practitioners. This will be a calm and empowering experience. Although, you can meditate yourself too if you don’t want to indulge in the guided sessions.

Mindful Self Compassion Workbooks

For mindful self-compassion practice, workbooks and books can be great resources. If you are unsure about the right ones, you can go for these:

Workbook –

‘The Mindful Self Compassion Workbook’ – Kristen Neff & Christopher Germer.

Book –

‘The Mindful Path of Self-Compassion: Freeing yourself from destructive thoughts and emotions’ – C Germer.

How To Develop Mindful Self Compassion?

It is really beautiful and empowering that you are on the path to mindful self-compassion. With some simple ways and a positive attitude, you can easily develop self-compassion in yourself.  Here are the ways:

  1. First of all, calm down.
  2. Direct your attention from outward to inward.
  3. Realize that you are your first and best friend. 
  4. “I’m a worthy recipient of my own compassion” – repeat it.
  5. Identify your suffering and feel it.
  6. Don’t isolate yourself.
  7.  Accept your faults and foibles without judging in any aspect.
  8. Practice guided meditations and exercises.
  9. Stop brooding over and over about your failings. With a relaxed mind, you can understand things better.
  10. Don’t blame anyone. Instead, acknowledge the hard times. 
  11. Don’t ask yourself – ‘Why me?’ Realize pain as an essential experience that is common to every human.
  12. Relate yourself with the larger world. We all are a part of a larger entity.
  13.  Help others too in embracing this in daily lives.

With the above ways, you can eventually develop a growing attitude.

Don’t get desperate from the beginning. Mindful self-compassion is a spontaneous process. The practice takes its own time. So, don’t rush to get the results in a day. Just practice it and let it be. With time, you will feel the difference.

The Conclusion

‘If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.’

– Jack Kornfield

Nature has endowed us with the beautiful gift of compassion. Often, we share this with others and leave none but ourselves. Mindful self-compassion is about this realization that we too deserve our kindness. It is the acceptance of our soul regarding our need for beliefs and warmth from our own selves. 

With this, you can change the way of your life. Thus, find your real self. Repeat the gospel – “I’m my best friend for a lifetime.”

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