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What is self-compassion and how do we practice it in our life?

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Psychologists Cameron Staley and Jennifer Miesch discuss self-compassion and how to practice it in daily life.

There has been increasing talk about self-compassion in recent years. On the surface it sounds nice but when you actually try to apply self-compassion to yourself, it’s much harder. Join us as we talk about what self-compassion is and isn’t, why it’s so hard to offer kindness to ourselves, and some simple ways to practice.

Self-compassion is treating yourself with the same kindness that you would treat a friend or loved one. In order to do this, we must first be aware of our experiences to recognize when we are suffering, struggling, or feeling a difficult emotion. We can understand that difficulties are part of the shared human experience, and we can turn toward ourselves with kindness. Most people find it easier to treat others with compassion than they do themselves.

Many people fear that self-compassion will make them lazy, weak, selfish, or will make them lose motivation. Research shows that being more compassionate rather than critical with ourselves actually contributes to resilience and perseverance through difficulties and helps us stay more aligned with our goals and values. Sometimes we need to practice fierce self-compassion, which is when we need to take action to protect ourselves or others or set appropriate boundaries.

Self-compassion can be as simple as noticing when we are suffering, and giving ourselves some kindness in the moment. It can be noticing what we are already doing well, and it can take the form of having gratitude for big or small things, savoring pleasant experiences, and engaging in basic self-care. Sometimes when we start being kind to ourselves we are reminded of all the times when we have not been treated with kindness or love. We also hold this with compassion and take steps to care for ourselves.

The information provided in this conversation is educational in nature and not intended to replace professional mental health services. The information should not be used as psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment of a mental health problem. Please be aware, the content of this podcast could be potentially upsetting at times as conversations address sensitive topics such as trauma, substance use, and suicide.

To learn more about counseling services for currently enrolled ISU students or general mental health resources, visit the ISU’s Counseling and Testing Service website. Crisis support is available by calling or texting 988.