Self-compassion means being loving and accepting towards ourselves despite any perceived flaws or failures. This perspective extends to others as well. Self-compassion encompasses acceptance, self-love, mindfulness, and connections with others.

Whether you suffer from anxiety, depression, addiction, or any other mental health disorder, using self-compassion can foster significant emotional healing. Certainly, other work will be involved in overcoming what is bothering you, but self-compassion can bring about significant personal growth. This growth is enduring and long-lasting.

What are the benefits of self-compassion?

Practicing self-kindness allows you to embrace yourself completely, flaws and all.  Physical imperfections are just seen as unique qualities of you. Personality traits are embraced rather than shunned. Certainly, if you desire to make healthy changes, that is completely fine. Engaging in change can be easier once you love the person you are. Change comes from a place of positivity rather than disgust or shame.

How do I practice self-compassion?

Using self-compassion is a continual process that will benefit you every day. Self-compassion is a state of mind to develop through practice.

At first, you may find it very challenging to be compassionate, especially if you were exposed to trauma or neglect early in life. We often learn how to be compassionate by having others be compassionate towards us. Thus, one way to learn self-compassion is to express compassion to others.

Meditation can be a powerful way to connect and foster compassion within you. The LovingKindness meditation is commonly used for this experience. The focus of the LovingKindness meditation is to generate compassion towards yourself and others, including people with whom you have a difficult relationship. There are many variations of this practice that you can find online. Below is one adaptation. You may try reading this to a partner or friend and then switching turns.

Self-Compassion Exercise

  1. Become comfortable in your chair or by laying down and relaxing.
  2. Take some deep breaths and let your hands rest gently.
  3. When you are comfortable, close your eyes or set your gaze on an object and lower your eyelids.
  4. Settle into your body and become aware of your present state.
  5. We are now going to cultivate loving-kindness, which is the intentional desire for someone, including yourself, to be well and happy. See if you can begin to open your heart with tenderness.
  6. Whatever shows up now, just let it be there. Acknowledge any thoughts or emotions as they are without needing to change them in any way.
  7. Now let yourself remember your basic goodness. You may think about a time when you were kind, loving or nurturing to someone else. If you are having trouble connecting with your own goodness, see if you can look at yourself through the eyes of someone who loved you, perhaps as a small child. Say to yourself:

May I be well and at peace

May I be safe and protected

May I accept myself just as I am

May I give myself loving-kindness

  1. Now bring to mind someone who you adore or care about, such as a close friend, pet, or family member. See if you can get a general sense of them. Imagine this person or animal in front of you, noticing how you feel about them. Perhaps you want to smile or feel love. This is loving-kindness. It’s a feeling that you wish them well. Say to them:

May you be well and at peace

May you be safe and protected

May I accept you just as you are

May I send you loving kindness

How are you feeling? What feelings and thoughts arise? Let yourself take in the positive emotions that come. If you are having trouble generating loving-kindness, that is okay. Just like any new habit, practicing self-compassion takes time. Just see this as the beginning of a new experience.

  1. Now bring to mind someone with whom you have a difficult relationship. Try to get a general sense of them and the distressing emotions that you’ve felt. Imagine this person in front of you. You may feel anger, frustration, sadness, or irritability. Although this might be difficult, try to give them loving kindness.  Say to them:

May you be well and at peace

May you be safe and protected

May I accept you just as you are

May I send you loving kindness

Reflect on that experience. Did your emotional state change? Do you feel any different about this person? If you did not have any change, that is fine. Fostering loving-kindness towards those who’ve harmed us or who we don’t like is challenging. You may need to start small, by sending them a small amount of loving-kindness.

  1. Now bring to mind all beings in the world. You may imagine earth or some object that represents all beings. Say to the world:

May all beings and creatures be well and at peace

May all beings and creatures be safe and protected

May all beings and creatures be accepted just as they are

May I send all beings and creatures loving kindness

Self-compasssion Counseling Technique

Can Self-Compassion Help with Anxiety or Depression?

Research has shown that practicing self-compassion can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.  Although self-compassion alone may not completely resolve anxiety and depression symptoms, the practice of loving and accepting yourself can change how you think and feel about yourself. Given that anxiety and depression often develop to due low self-esteem and negative self-talk, self-compassion allows you to change how you think and feel.

Learn Self-Compassion In Counseling

Dr. Mazzei, Health Psychologist, teaches individuals how to foster self-compassion. She integrates psychological techniques in therapy to foster acceptance, positive self-talk, and helpful lifestyle behaviors. If you are interested in learning more about how self-compassion practices can benefit you, please contact our office to schedule an initial consultation. Simply follow these steps:

  1. Text today at (480) 448-6755 or e-mail us for a free consultation
  2. Or, you can book directly online with Dr. Mazzei
  3. Begin your journey towards a fulfilling and healthier life

Dr. Mazzei offers both in-person and teletherapy counseling for residents of Arizona, Illinois, and Nevada. Her private practice is located at 3377 S. Price Rd., Suite 2104, Chandler, AZ.