About This Tool

Self-compassion is a powerful practice. It is strong medicine for suffering, and a resilient way of relating to ourselves and to our experiences. However, developing self-compassion is a path that many of us do not anticipate. Self-compassion can sound remote or foreign—a niche behavior like parasailing or playing the bassoon. It might seem theoretically appealing, but as more of an aspiration than a true possibility. The word self-compassion can give the impression that it is a weak or soft inclination, rather than a resource of great power. The idea of self-compassion may even sound disagreeable or dangerous. Despite our assumptions about self-compassion, every person can build self-compassion and benefit from it. This exercise is a great place to get you started on your path.

Why It Works

Self-criticism is strongly linked to depression and anxiety, whereas self-compassion is positively associated with well-being, motivation, and accomplishments, and is negatively related to distress (Breines & Chen, 2012; Hall, Row, Wuench, & Godley, 2013; Kelly, Zuroff, & Shapira, 2009). Self-criticism and self-encouragement appear to activate distinct brain regions (Longe et al., 2010). Just a few weeks of practice can meaningfully increase people’s self-kindness and self-compassion (Kearney et al., 2013; Mosewich, Crocker, Kowalski, & Delongis, 2013; Smeets, Neff, Alberts, & Peters, 2014), and can decrease our bodily activation to stress (Arch et al., 2014).


Leave a Comment
Log in to provide constructive feedback.

Other Tools from Rachel Turow Psychotherapy