The Importance of Self-Compassion

When you accept and love yourself, it becomes easier to face setbacks.
Published November 9, 2017

Are your friends perfect? (No, right?) When they fall down you pick them back up. Give yourself the same permission to be imperfect—just like every other human being.

Be kind to yourself

Here’s why: People who practice self-compassion are more likely to eat well, exercise, and take good care of themselves, even when stressed.1 They’re also better able to maintain their weight loss!2

And the benefits don’t stop with weight loss: Studies show that when you take your successes and failures in stride, you may find that you’re less afraid of failure3 and more satisfied with life.4

Ways to do it: 

  • Cut yourself slack when you slip up or if things don’t go your way—while still being accountable for your actions.

  • Think kind, encouraging thoughts about yourself when things are fantastic, and also when they’re not going so well.

Treat yourself like a friend

Some days, loving yourself is easier said than done. (Old habits die hard.) This simple, science-based technique5 will help you retrain your brain.

  1. Think of a time when a close friend has felt bad about themselves or struggled in some way. Imagine what you’d say to them, how you’d say it, and how you’d want them to feel. Write what you’d say.

  2. Now think of a specific time when you have felt bad about yourself or struggled in some way. What do you typically think and do? What do you say to yourself? How would you say it to yourself? Write what you’d say.

  3. Is there a difference between the two answers? If yes, why? Ask yourself why you would treat yourself any differently than you’d treat a friend.

  4. Close your eyes and consider what might change if you treated yourself the same way you would treat a friend. Write down your answers.

  5. The next time you’re feeling discouraged, try speaking to yourself in this more compassionate, understanding way. Be a friend to yourself. Note how it makes you feel.

Related: Shift into a mindset of success

1 Terry ML, et al. Self-compassionate reactions to health threats. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 2013;39(7):911-926.

2 Mantzios M,Wilson JC. Exploring mindfulness and mindfulness with self-compassion-centered interventions to assist weight

loss: Theoretical considerations and preliminary results of a randomized pilot study. Mindfulness. 2014 Jul 24;1-12.

3 Neff KD, Dahm KA. “Self-compassion: what it is, what is does, and how it relates to mindfulness,” in M. Robinson, B. Meier & B.

Ostrafin (Eds.) Mindfulness and Self-Regulation. New York: Springer 2014

4 Neff KD, Kirkpatrick KL, Rude SS. An examination of self-compassion in relation to positive psychological functioning and personality traits. Journal of Research in Personality. 2007;41:908-916.

5 Neff KD, Germer CK. A pilot study and randomized controlled trial of the mindful self-compassion program. Journal of Clinical Psychology. 2013;69(1):28-44.