With self-compassion we treat ourselves with kindness, care, understanding and support, just as we would treat a friend we cared about. Most people treat themselves more harshly than this however, saying cruel things they would never say to others.
Compassion also entails concern with the alleviation of suffering. This means there is also an action component to self-compassion. It involves actively soothing and comforting ourselves when we are in pain.
With self-compassion we see our own experience of imperfection as part of the larger human experience. We recognise that everyone suffers, this is normal. Often, however when we struggle or fail, we feel something has gone wrong, that this shouldn’t be happening. This creates a feeling of abnormality that is very isolating.
In order for us to respond to our suffering with compassion, we first have to recognise that we are suffering. Mindfulness allows us to turn toward painful feelings and “be” with them as they are. Mindfulness is a balanced state of awareness. We do not suppress or avoid what we are feeling, nor do we become carried away by the dramatic storyline of what is happening.
Another way to describe self compassion is that it involves being in a state of “caring connected presence”. This corresponds to “kindness, common humanity and mindfulness”. When we embrace ourselves, our lives and others with a sense of caring connected presence our experience becomes radically transformed.
Mindfulness Self-Compassion (MSC) was developed by Chris Germer and Kristin Neff in 2010. Chris brought his clinical expertise together with Kristin’s pioneering research and they created the MSC programme, which has continuously evolved since then.
Research had demonstrated that MSC
*increases self compassion, mindfulness and compassion for others,
*decreases depression, anxiety, stress and emotional avoidance,
*increases social connectedness, life satisfaction and happiness,
* All these gains in wellbeing are maintained one year later.