How can I learn to be self-compassionate?

Ronald Siegel
While some people come by self-compassion naturally, others have to learn it. Luckily, it is a learnable skill. Several methods have been proposed, and training programs are being developed.

Harvard psychologist Christopher Germer, in his book The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, suggests that there are five ways to bring self-compassion into your life: physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. He and other experts in the field have proposed a wide variety of ways to help foster self-compassion. Here are a few:

Comfort your body. Eat something healthy. Lie down and rest your body. Massage your own neck, feet, or hands. Take a walk. Anything you can do to improve how you feel physically gives you a dose of self-compassion.

Write a letter to yourself. Describe a situation that caused you to feel pain (a breakup with a lover, a job loss, a poorly received presentation). Write a letter to yourself describing the situation without blaming anyone. Nurture your feelings.

Give yourself encouragement. Think of what you would say to a good friend if the same thing had happened to him or her. Direct these compassionate responses toward yourself when the pain feels stronger.

Practice mindfulness (awareness and acceptance of your present experience). Self-compassion adds another dimension to the acceptance of ourselves while we're in pain.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.