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Self-compassion plays a crucial role in how we perceive ourselves and deal with our challenges. Together with Lavendla therapists, you can develop your self-compassion through conversations, exercises and mindfulness.

What is self-compassion?

Self-compassion is about being kind and understanding to yourself, especially during difficult times. It is an acceptance that we are human and that mistakes and difficulties are part of life. But it is also a deeply rooted feeling that involves treating oneself with the same kindness, care and understanding that we would offer a close friend. It is the art of being kind to yourself, especially during times of failure or personal challenges. Read more about self-esteem in general here.

How do you become kinder to yourself?

At the core of self-compassion are three key components: self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness.

Self-kindness means being gentle and understanding towards yourself rather than harsh and self-critical.

Common humanity recognizes that suffering and personal failings are part of the human experience that everyone shares, helping us to feel less isolated in our difficulties.

Mindfulness is about keeping your emotions in balance and not over-identifying with them.

By embracing these aspects, individuals can develop a healthier relationship with themselves, helping to reduce anxiety and depression and promote greater emotional wellbeing.

What set our therapist apart was her genuine empathy and personal insight. Not only did she possess a deep understanding of neurodiversity, but she also shared personal experiences that resonated with us, creating an instant connection and fostering a sense of trust!

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Isn’t self-compassion just self-pity?

No, it is not to be confused with self-pity or self-absorption; it is not about victimization or selfishness. It is instead about cultivating an understanding and non-judgmental attitude towards our own experiences, and realizing that we all share a common human experience filled with both joy and sorrow.

Exercises to develop your self-compassion

To cultivate and strengthen self-compassion, it is important to integrate mindful exercises into everyday life. These exercises are designed to gradually increase our ability to approach ourselves with kindness, understanding and acceptance.

Feel with yourself as with others

A basic exercise is to regularly stop and ask yourself “How would I treat a friend who was in this situation?” and then apply the same kindness and consideration to yourself.

Write a gratitude journal

Another powerful exercise is to keep a gratitude journal, noting things you appreciate about yourself or positive actions you have taken.


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Mindfulness

Mindfulness exercises, such as mindful breathing and body scanning, help to increase awareness of current feelings without judging them, which is a central part of self-compassion. Focused meditations, often guided, can also be an effective way to direct attention and kindness to oneself. These meditations can include visualizations where you imagine sending love and kindness to yourself and others.

Writing letters

Writing self-compassionate letters to yourself, especially during difficult times, is another technique to reinforce positive self-conscious feelings.

Developing a compassionate inner dialog

Finally, it is important to remind yourself that no one is perfect and that mistakes and difficulties are part of the human experience, a central idea in the practice of self-compassion. By regularly engaging in these exercises, you can gradually develop a more compassionate inner dialog and thus improve your overall emotional well-being.

Exercises you can do today

  • Write a friendly diary: Note three things each day where you treated yourself with kindness.
  • Mindfulness exercise: Be present in the moment. Take a few minutes each day to just ‘be’.
  • Write down what you are grateful for: Use your kindness journal to write down some things you appreciate, both in others and in yourself.

Self-compassion and psychology

If you find the challenges around self-compassion overwhelming, it may be helpful to seek out a psychologist. They can offer professional guidance and support to help you move forward.

Self-compassion in everyday life

Here are some everyday tips to increase your self-compassion:

  • Be kind to yourself: Treat yourself as you would treat a good friend.
  • Reflect on your progress: Recognize and celebrate your progress, even the small ones.
  • Practice gratitude: Focus on the positives in your life and be grateful.

Next steps

Developing self-compassion is a journey that requires time and patience. Remember that it is a process and that every step forward is valuable. If you are struggling to improve your inner dialogue or want someone to support you in your development, you can book an initial session with one of our therapists. They will be happy to help you with more information on exercises, conversations about your self-compassion and how you can develop it to become more compassionate and balanced.


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24 common questions and answers about self-compassion

What is self-compassion?

Self-compassion is the ability to be kind and understanding towards yourself, especially during difficult times. It involves treating oneself with the same care and understanding as one would treat a good friend and includes three main components: self-kindness, the community of humanity, and mindfulness. These aspects help individuals to acknowledge their faults and shortcomings without being too hard on themselves.

How to develop better self-compassion?

Developing better self-compassion can start with a few simple steps: Practice self-kindness: Be kind and understanding to yourself when facing difficulties. Connect with others: Remember that all people have flaws and that we are not alone in our experiences. Practice mindfulness: Be aware of your feelings and thoughts without judging them. Journal: Reflect on your experiences and feelings. Seek support: Talk to friends, family, or a professional about your feelings and experiences.

What is the effect on the brain when we show self-compassion?

When we practice self-compassion, parts of the brain associated with positive emotions and empathy are activated. This can reduce stress and increase our emotional well-being. Research shows that self-compassion can lead to lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and increase the activity of our brains’ care and comfort systems, providing a sense of calm and security.

What does self-compassion mean in Australia?

‘Self compassion’ is a concept that emphasizes the importance of being kind to yourself, especially in challenging situations, and treating yourself with the same compassion you would show others.

Can you practice self-compassion?

Yes, it is absolutely possible to practice self-compassion. It can be done through various exercises and techniques, such as: Self-compassion meditations: There are guided meditations specifically designed to increase self-compassion. Affirmations: Positive statements that are repeated to reinforce self-compassionate thoughts. Reflection: Regularly reflecting on one’s actions and feelings can increase awareness and thus self-compassion. Therapy: Professional help can be effective in developing a deeper understanding and practice of self-compassion. By practicing and integrating these practices into everyday life, one can gradually improve self-compassion.

Are there any scientifically proven benefits of self-compassion?

Yes, there are several scientific studies showing the benefits of self-compassion. These include reduced anxiety and depression, improved mental health, increased resilience to stress, and better emotional well-being. Self-compassion has also been shown to improve relationships with others and increase the ability to deal with life’s challenges in a healthier way.

How is self-compassion different from self-esteem?

Self-compassion and self-esteem are related but distinct concepts. Self-esteem is usually about how we value ourselves, which can be based on our achievements or how we compare ourselves to others. Self-compassion, on the other hand, is more linked to how we treat ourselves, especially when faced with difficulties or failures. Self-compassion involves a constant and caring attitude towards oneself regardless of external circumstances.

Can self-compassion improve physical health?

Absolutely. Self-compassion in the workplace can lead to better stress management, increased resilience and improved relationships with colleagues. It can also promote a more positive work environment and improve job performance, as individuals who practice self-compassion tend to be less fearful of failure and more likely to learn from their mistakes.

Is it possible to be too self-compassionate?

Self-compassion is about a balanced approach to self-care. Being too self-compassionate, in the sense of avoiding all discomfort or responsibility, is not the same as true self-compassion. True self-compassion means acknowledging and dealing with difficult emotions or situations in a healthy way, not avoiding them completely.

Can self-compassion help with social anxiety?

Yes, research suggests that self-compassion can be an effective tool for dealing with social anxiety. By being more understanding and less critical of themselves, individuals with social anxiety may feel more comfortable in social situations and less worried about judgment from others. This in turn can lead to a reduction in anxiety symptoms and an increased sense of belonging and acceptance.

Can self-compassion lead to self-pity?

Self-compassion is actually the opposite of self-pity. While self-pity focusses on one’s own suffering in an exaggerated way, self-compassion is about relating to one’s suffering in a healthy and balanced way. As self-compassion encourages an objective and kind view of difficulties, it becomes easier to deal with them rather than exaggerate them.

How does self-compassion affect relationships with others?

Self-compassion can have a positive impact on relationships. By being kind and understanding to oneself, one can reduce the tendency to react defensively and respond to others with more understanding and empathy. This can lead to healthier and more supportive relationships, both personally and professionally.

Are there exercises to develop self-compassion?

Yes, there are many exercises for developing self-compassion. Some examples include: Write a letter to yourself: Write a letter in which you express compassion and understanding for a difficult situation you have experienced. Meditation: Use guided meditations that focus on cultivating compassion for yourself. Meditative body scan with compassion: Perform a body scan focussing on sending kindness and compassion to every part of your body. Affirmations: Use positive affirmations that strengthen self-compassion.

How to maintain self-compassion under pressure?

Maintaining self-compassion under pressure can be challenging, but it is possible by: Remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes: This can help you see the situation in a more realistic light. Take short breaks: Step away from stressful situations to collect your thoughts and feelings. Breathe deeply: Deep breathing can reduce stress and help you refocus. Set realistic expectations: Accept that you cannot control everything and focus on what you can influence.

What role does self-compassion play in personal development?

Self-compassion is an important part of personal development as it encourages self-acceptance and personal growth. It can help individuals handle criticism more constructively, take risks to achieve their goals, and learn from their failures.

How do cultural differences affect the perception of self-compassion?

Cultural differences can affect how self-compassion is perceived and practiced. In some cultures, self-compassion may be seen as selfish or as a sign of weakness. However, in other cultures it may be encouraged as an important part of emotional well-being. The understanding of self-compassion needs to be adapted to cultural norms and values.

Can self-compassion improve decision-making?

Yes, self-compassion can positively influence decision-making by reducing the fear of making mistakes. It can encourage people to see mistakes as learning opportunities rather than failures, which can lead to more thoughtful and balanced decisions.

How can self-compassion affect self-confidence?

Self-compassion can have a positive impact on self-confidence. By treating oneself with kindness and understanding, even in difficult situations, a person can develop a more stable and resilient sense of self-worth. This strengthens self-confidence as it is no longer dependent on external successes or affirmations.

How can you integrate self-compassion into your daily routine?

Integrating self-compassion into everyday life can be done in several ways: Start the day with a positive affirmation: Dedicate a few minutes each morning to repeat a positive affirmation that builds self-compassion. Practice accepting compliments: Learn to accept compliments with a simple “thank you” instead of dismissing them. Set boundaries: Learn to say no and set healthy boundaries to take care of your well-being. Reflect on the day: End the day by reflecting on three things you are grateful for or proud of.

Can self-compassion help in parenting?

Absolutely. Parents who practice self-compassion tend to be more patient, understanding and less critical of both themselves and their children. This can create a more loving and supportive family atmosphere and teach children the importance of self-compassion.

Are there any books or resources you can recommend to learn more about self-compassion?

‘Self-Compassion: The Path to Inner Strength and Well-Being’ by Kristin Neff. ‘The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook’ by Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer. ‘Daring Greatly’ by Brené Brown. These books provide valuable insights and practical tools for cultivating self-compassion in your life.

Developing Your Self-Compassion: Step by Step

Developing self-compassion is an important process for promoting mental health and well-being. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you begin the journey towards increased self-compassion, both for yourself and to support others.

1. Understand what self-compassion means

Self-compassion is the ability to be kind and understanding to yourself in difficult times. It means acknowledging your own feelings and needs without judging yourself.

2. Identify your own feelings

Start by recognizing and accepting your emotions as it is important to develop an awareness of your own emotional life and thoughts. These can range from joy to sadness, anger to gratitude. Acknowledging these emotions is the first step towards self-compassion.

3. Practice self-awareness

Reflect on your thoughts and actions. Pay attention to how you talk to yourself. Is your inner conversation critical or supportive? Practice replacing negative thoughts with more positive and supportive messages.

4. Show yourself understanding and kindness

When you face difficulties, try to treat yourself as you would treat a good friend. Be kind and understanding to yourself. Remember that all people make mistakes and that it is part of being human.

5. Practice self-compassion daily

Include small exercises in your daily routine that promote self-compassion. It can be as simple as taking a few deep breaths, writing down three things you are grateful for, or spending time on an activity you enjoy.

6. Seek support if needed

If you are struggling to develop self-compassion, don’t hesitate to seek support. It can be from friends, family or professionals, such as psychologists and therapists. Remember that asking for help is powerful.

7. Be patient and persistent

Developing self-compassion is a process that takes time as it requires reflection and insight. Be patient with yourself and keep practicing these steps, even when it feels challenging.

Remember, self-compassion is not just a technique, it is a lifestyle. By integrating these steps into your daily life, you can start building a stronger foundation of self-love and acceptance. If you need support in your development or just want to have a short conversation about how to start, you can easily book an appointment with one of our therapists or psychologists.

Lavendla – Making the difficult easier

Written by melissa

Melissa is a Certified Kinesiologist who focusses on a client-centred, holistic and integrative approach to health and wellness. She has extensive experience in managing stress, anxiety, fears, phobias and trauma in her clients. Melissa uses visual and auditory feedback to directly access and solve the cause of psychological stressors in the body so that optimal well-being and balance is achieved.