Kristin Neff’s book Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind was published in 2011. Neff provides research and stories illustrating the importance of compassion toward ourselves. She also offers easy exercises that invite self-awareness.
Neff argues that being kind to yourself strengthens your emotional resilience. Some of her conclusions include:
- Both self-compassion (accepting our weaknesses) and self-appreciation (celebrating our strengths) are important.
- By developing mindfulness, awareness and new thought patterns, we can stop evaluating, comparing, resisting, obsessing, distorting, and judging our experience.
- Many of us live with self-distortions of who we truly are.
- It is important to stop beating ourselves up with self-critical thoughts.
- Self-compassion requires: 1) self-kindness, 2) recognition of our common humanity with a sense of connection to others, and 3) mindfulness so that we acknowledge our painful and pleasurable feelings without either minimizing or exaggerating them.
- Suffering = Pain x Resistance.
Neff borrows four questions for self-soothing from Marshall Rosenberg’s book called Nonviolent Communication:
- What am I observing?
- What am I feeling?
- What am I needing right now?
- Do I have a request of myself or someone else?
Kristin Neff Quotes:
1. You don’t want to beat yourself up for beating yourself up in the vain hope that it will somehow make you stop beating yourself up.
2. Whenever you notice you are in pain, you have three potential courses of action:
- You can give yourself kindness and care.
- You can remind yourself that encountering pain is part of the shared human experience.
- You can hold your thoughts and emotions in mindful awareness.
3. So why is self-compassion a more effective motivator than self-criticism? Because its driving force is love, not fear. Love allows us to feel confident and secure (in part by pumping up our oxytocin), while fear makes us feel insecure and jittery (sending your amygdala into overdrive and flooding our systems with cortisol).
Be kind to myself. Appreciate myself. Take care of myself.
4. You can use the following phrases when you are stuck in negativity. They are designed to validate your feelings while also focusing on your desire to be happy:
- It’s hard to feel (fill in the blank) right now.
- Feeling (blank) is part of the human experience.
- What can I do to make myself happier in this moment?
Neff includes a chapter on self-compassionate parenting emphasizing the importance of embracing the fact that we will all make mistakes raising our children.
Self-Compassion includes not only research-based concepts; but also Neff’s personal experiences. It will assist those readers who are willing to embrace themselves as human paradoxes of strength and vulnerability. Isn’t it time that we all gave ourselves the self-care and self-kindness we deserve?