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The Importance of Self-Compassion

By April 18, 2023October 31st, 2023Blog

Self-compassion is the act of treating yourself as you would treat a good friend. There are three components of self-compassion, which includes self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. Self-compassion is intended to be used when it is needed most in challenging moments so we can be our biggest supporter instead of our biggest rival. Self-compassion can be viewed as a form of self-care.  

Three Components of Self-Compassion: 

  1. Self-kindness is the act of giving care to yourself as you would to others, rather than being critical of oneself, offer encouragement and support to protect yourself from harm. In lieu of criticizing, one offers themselves kindheartedness and endless acceptance. 
  2. Common humanity reminds us that all humans are imperfect, makes mistakes, and experiences difficulties in life. It can be easy to forget that no one is an exempt from pain.
  3. Mindfulness is being in the moment in a stable and clear way.  It means being present and open; not battling emotions, but allowing feelings and thoughts and awareness to be felt. A key component of self-compassion is to recognize we are suffering and allow the space to sit in the moment. Though it may seem apparent that suffering is occurring, it is vital to truly acknowledge the level of suffering so there is time to respond with kindness and care (Germer, C., & Neff, K., 2018).  

Through the Rare Belonging Grant from the Alexion Charitable Foundation ,Give an Hour not only mapped the journey of rare caregivers in relation to their mental health and wellbeing but informed our mental health services to this population by what we learned from the source–the caregivers themselves.  Did you know that rare diseases or conditions are those that affect fewer than 200,000 people and it is estimated that 25 to 30 million Americans currently have a rare disease or condition?  It’s not as rare as one may think.

Rare caregivers experience a high burden of care, which can result in high levels of stress, feelings of loss of what they thought life would be like, and simply the feeling of not being able to keep up with all aspects of rare caregiving, family, work, not to mention taking care of oneself. This is where self-compassion can play a key role for rare caregivers. 

So how can one practice self-compassion? There are various exercises that can help build the muscle of self-compassion. One such exercise is a compassion break. This utilizes the 3 components, by taking a moment to be mindful of what you are 

feeling, and label it as you feel it. Then add the common humanity component by saying your feeling are experienced by others, and finally self-kindness by offering yourself kind words, such as “may I be kind to myself” or “may I accept myself as I am.” By practicing mindful self-compassion one can change their connection with themselves subsequently transforming one’s life. 

Give an Hour’s Rare Care Peer Support Training that braids in self-compassion tools as a form of self-care.   Research indicates by being self-compassionate, people are able to better cope with trauma.  

Common concerns about being self-compassionate:

    • It is a form of self-pity 
    • It will make a person vulnerable and weak 
    • It is self-centered and selfish 
    • It makes excuses 

These concerns are NOT true! Being mindful and caring towards oneself is a key driver of being self-compassionate and mentally resilient.  According to Neff et al. (2007), people with self-compassion are less likely to be critical of themselves and less likely to be anxious or depressed, which, in turn, leads to greater life satisfaction.  That doesn’t like like self pity or weakness, right?

Dr. Germer, a psychologist who studies self compassion, found that self-compassion means treating yourself with the same understanding and kindness that you would treat someone you truly love.  If you know a rare caregiver, let them know about our services and also share our resources. We can all make a difference in each other lives by not only being more self-compassionate, but compassionate with those we know are caring for others.

Self-compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others. Dr. Christopher Germer, clinical psychologist and co-creator of the Mindful Self Compassion program