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What is self-compassion?

We have all felt down on ourselves at times and maybe even felt inadequate. Self-compassion is when we are able to be compassionate or kind to ourselves in the same way we treat our loved ones when they are going through hard times. Self-compassion is made up of three different components: kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. Kindness refers to the understanding that things like failures, difficulties, or inadequacy are inevitable universal experiences shared by everyone and are not unique to any one person in particular. Likewise, common humanity refers to the understanding that suffering is part of the human experience and one is exempt from suffering. Lastly, mindfulness refers to the ways in which we overcome our negative emotions. It is important that we take balanced approaches when dealing with these feelings of inadequacy (i.e., that we do not dismiss them nor do we over identify with them). An example of self-compassion can be a person who is having a difficult time completing all their assigned tasks. Rather than tell themselves that they’re never going to get it done (or, conversely, that they are doing amazingly well), they may be honest with themselves and say something like, “I am struggling with all of my tasks, but I am doing the best I can.”

What happens when we’re not self-compassionate?

When we are able to practice self-compassion, the benefits are endless. We tend to experience an overall better well-being, make deeper connections with people, develop greater life satisfaction, improve our self-esteem, and increase our motivation. However, the opposite is true when we are unable to practice self-compassion. If we are unable to essentially love ourselves, it makes it difficult to love and empathize with other people. We also may experience harsh self-criticism, which leads to things like isolation, anxiety, depression, and poor body esteem. 

How can I learn to be more self-compassionate?

There are several ways we can learn to be more compassionate towards ourselves. First, it is important to practice mindfulness and identify the times when we may not be compassionate and may be self-critical. Other ways to be more self-compassionate are to challenge your inner critic or that voice inside your head. Taking care of your body and practicing self-care is another great way to let yourself know that you love yourself. Journaling can be helpful as well, one activity people find both enjoyable and helpful is writing a love letter to themselves. Therapy can also be a great way to practice self-love and compassion as you are actively making a commitment to yourself. Above all, giving yourself a break every now and then goes   a long way because you deserve it. 

This page is also part of the Roamers Therapy Glossary; a collection of mental-health related definitions that are written by our therapists.

While our offices are currently located at the South Loop neighborhood of Downtown Chicago, Illinois, we also welcome and serve clients for online therapy from anywhere in Illinois and Washington, D.C. Clients from the Chicagoland area may choose in-office or online therapy and usually commute from surrounding areas such as River North, West Loop, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lake View, Rogers Park, Logan Square, Pilsen, Bridgeport, Little Village, Bronzeville, South Shore, Hyde Park, Back of the Yards, Wicker Park, Bucktown and many more. You can visit our contact page to access detailed information on our office location.