Kristin Neff Quotes

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This is a moment of suffering. Suffering is part of life. May I be kind to myself in this moment. May I give myself the compassion I need.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Compassion is, by definition, relational. Compassion literally means 'to suffer with,' which implies a basic mutuality in the experience of suffering. The emotion of compassion springs from the recognition that the human experience is imperfect.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Rather than wandering around in problem-solving mode all day, thinking mainly of what you want to fix about yourself or your life, you can pause for a few moments throughout the day to marvel at what’s not broken.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Painful feelings are, by their very nature, temporary. They will weaken over time as long as we don’t prolong or amplify them through resistance or avoidance. The only way to eventually free ourselves from debilitating pain, therefore, is to be with it as it is. The only way out is through.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
If you are continually judging and criticizing yourself while trying to be kind to others, you are drawing artificial boundaries and distinctions that only lead to feelings of separation and isolation.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Our successes and failures come and go—they neither define us nor do they determine our worthiness.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Remember that if you really want to motivate yourself, love is more powerful than fear.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
As the seventeenth-century French philosopher Montaigne once said, 'My life has been filled with terrible misfortune, most of which never happened.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Once we start basing our self-esteem purely on our performance, our greatest joys in life can start to seem like so much hard work, our pleasure morphing into pain.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Being human is not about being any one particular way; it is about being as life creates you—with your own particular strengths and weaknesses, gifts and challenges, quirks and oddities.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Whenever I notice something about myself I don’t like, or whenever something goes wrong in my life, I silently repeat the following phrases: This is a moment of suffering. Suffering is part of life. May I be kind to myself in this moment. May I give myself the compassion I need.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
The old saying is that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. I say f*** that. When life gives you lemons, make margaritas.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
as soon as you notice you’re suffering you automatically embrace yourself with compassion.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
The real treasure offered by mindfulness—its most amazing gift—is that mindfulness provides us with the opportunity to respond rather than simply react. When
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
When we open to the reality of what is, even if we don’t like what is, it helps almost immediately.
Kristin Neff (Fierce Self-Compassion: How Women Can Harness Kindness to Speak Up, Claim Their Power, and Thrive)
Happiness is not dependent on circumstances being exactly as we want them to be, or on ourselves being exactly as we’d like to be. Rather, happiness stems from loving ourselves and our lives exactly as they are, knowing that joy and pain, strength and weakness, glory and failure are all essential to the full human experience.
Kristin Neff
Compassion is not only relevant to those who are blameless victims, but also to those whose suffering stems from failures, personal weakness, or bad decisions. You know, the kind you and I make every day.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Kristin Neff explains, “Who is the only person in your life who is available 24/7 to provide you with care and kindness? You.
Eric Barker (Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong)
The serenity prayer—made famous by Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step programs—captures this idea beautifully: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Because self-critics often come from unsupportive family backgrounds, they tend not to trust others and assume that those they care about will eventually try to hurt them. This creates a steady state of fear that causes problems in interpersonal interactions. For instance, research shows that highly self-critical people tend to be dissatisfied in their romantic relationships because they assume their partners are judging them as harshly as they judge themselves. The misperception of even fairly neutral statements as disparaging often leads to oversensitive reactions and unnecessary conflicts. This means that self-critics often undermine the closeness and supportiveness in relationships that they so desperately seek.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
At the most basic level, self-compassion simply requires being a good friend to ourselves.
Kristin Neff (Fierce Self-Compassion: How Women Can Harness Kindness to Speak Up, Claim Their Power, and Thrive)
When we’re mainly filtering our experience through the ego, constantly trying to improve or maintain our high self-esteem, we’re denying ourselves the thing we actually want most. To be accepted as we are, an integral part of something much greater than our small selves. Unbounded. Immeasurable. Free.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
A Native American wisdom story tells of an old Cherokee who is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil—he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person, too.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
When we relate to ourselves with tender self-compassion, we care for and nurture ourselves. When we relate to ourselves with fierce self-compassion, we assert our autonomy and stand up for our rights.
Kristin Neff (Fierce Self-Compassion: How Women Can Harness Kindness to Speak Up, Claim Their Power, and Thrive)
Dr. Kristin Neff is a researcher and professor at the University of Texas at Austin. She runs the Self-Compassion Research Lab, where she studies how we develop and practice self-compassion. According to Neff, self-compassion has three elements: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. Here are abbreviated definitions for each of these: Self-kindness: Being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism. Common humanity: Common humanity recognizes that suffering and feelings of personal inadequacy are part of the shared human experience—something we all go through rather than something that happens to “me” alone. Mindfulness: Taking a balanced approach to negative emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated. We cannot ignore our pain and feel compassion for it at the same time. Mindfulness requires that we not “over-identify” with thoughts and feelings, so that we are caught up and swept away by negativity.
Brené Brown (The Gifts of Imperfection)
Pain and dysfunction get passed down from generation to generation. A mixture of genetic inheritance and environmental circumstance ensures that our lives unfold according to a complex web of conditions that is infinitely larger than ourselves. The only way to stop the vicious cycle of reacting to pain by causing more pain is to step out of the system. We need to let our hearts fill with compassion, and forgive ourselves and others.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Try to feel compassion for how difficult it is to be an imperfect human being in this extremely competitive society of ours. Our culture does not emphasize self-compassion, quite the opposite. We’re told that no matter how hard we try, our best just isn’t good enough.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
If you are someone who tends to ruminate, or who suffers from anxiety and depression, it's important that you don't judge yourself for this way of being.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Loving ourselves points us to capacities of resilience, compassion, and understanding within that are simply part of being alive. —S
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Suffering = Pain x Resistance”?
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
One of the major causes of mental health problems, he felt, was a lack of belongingness, the perception that we are cut off from our fellows.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Self-compassion isn't talked about as much as it should be, maybe because it's often confused with its troublesome cousins, self-pity and self-indulgence. Psychologist Kristin Neff describes self-compassion as offering the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to a friend. It allows us t respond to our own errors with conern and understanding rather than criticism and shame.
Sheryl Sandberg (Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy)
Compassion, then, involves the recognition and clear seeing of suffering. It also involves feelings of kindness for people who are suffering, so that the desire to help—to ameliorate suffering—emerges. Finally, compassion involves recognizing our shared human condition, flawed and fragile as it is.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
It’s the old carrot-and-stick approach—self-judgment is the stick and self-esteem is the carrot.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change. —CARL ROGERS, On Becoming a Person T
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
the key to happiness was understanding that suffering is caused by resisting pain.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
If I have to feel better than you to feel good about myself, then how clearly am I really going to see you, or myself for that matter?
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Mindfulness brings us back to the present moment and provides the type of balanced awareness that forms the foundation of self-compassion. Like a clear, still pool without ripples, mindfulness perfectly mirrors what’s occurring without distortion. Rather than becoming lost in our own personal soap opera, mindfulness allows us to view our situation with greater perspective and helps to ensure that we don’t suffer unnecessarily.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Despite the fact we give hurricanes names like Katrina and Rita, a hurricane isn't a self-contained unit. A hurricane is an impermanent, ever-changing phenomenon arising out of a particular set of interacting conditions - air pressure, ground temperature, humidity, wind and so on. The same applies to us: we aren't self-contained units either. Like weather patterns, we are also an impermanent, ever-changing phenomenon arising out of a particular set of interacting conditions. Without food, water, air and shelter, we'd be dead. Without our genes, family, friends, social history, and culture, wouldn't act or feel as we do.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Trying softer isn’t about knowing or doing the right thing; it’s about being gentle with ourselves in the face of pain that is keeping us stuck. Because no matter how hard we try, we can’t hate or shame ourselves into change. Only love can move us toward true growth. This is the love given to us by a gentle, kind, compassionate, good God—and the love we are invited to give ourselves too. Kristin Neff, the foremost researcher in the field of self-compassion, points out that compassion is different from empathy in that empathy is feeling with someone else, whereas compassion means to suffer with someone and then allow ourselves to be moved by that pain so we are motivated into action.[
Aundi Kolber (Try Softer: A Fresh Approach to Move Us out of Anxiety, Stress, and Survival Mode--and into a Life of Connection and Joy)
According to my model, self-compassion is comprised of three main elements: mindfulness, common humanity, and kindness. These elements are distinct but interact as a system, and all three must be present in a self-compassionate mindset to make it healthy and stable.
Kristin Neff (Fierce Self-Compassion: How Women Can Harness Kindness to Speak Up, Claim Their Power, and Thrive)
The only way to eventually free ourselves from debilitating pain, therefore, is to be with it as it is. The only way out is through.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
The beauty of self-compassion is that instead of replacing negative feelings with positive ones, new positive emotions are generated by embracing the negative ones.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
For each event, use mindfulness, a sense of common humanity, and kindness to process the event in a self-compassionate way.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
When we open our hearts to what is, it generates a level of warmth that helps heal our wounds.
Kristin Neff (Fierce Self-Compassion: How Women Can Harness Kindness to Speak Up, Claim Their Power, and Thrive)
what’s more important than the intensity of the challenge you face in life is how you relate to yourself in the midst of it.
Kristin Neff (Fierce Self-Compassion: How Women Can Harness Kindness to Speak Up, Claim Their Power, and Thrive)
Clearly you don’t have complete control over your actions, or else you’d only act in ways that you approved of. So why are you judging yourself so harshly for the way you are?
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
If you are someone who tends to ruminate, or who suffers from anxiety and depression, it’s important that you don’t judge yourself for this way of being.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
all pain deserves to be held in the warm embrace of compassion, so that healing can occur.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
By giving ourselves unconditional kindness and comfort while embracing the human experience, difficult as it is, we avoid destructive patterns of fear, negativity, and isolation.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
there’s almost no one whom we treat as badly as ourselves.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
A human being is part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. —EINSTEIN, The Einstein Papers
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Perhaps our behavior becomes more understandable, however, when we remember that just like self-aggrandizement, self-criticism is a type of safety behavior designed to ensure acceptance within the larger social group. Even though the alpha dog gets to eat first, the dog that shows his belly when snarled at still gets his share. He’s given a safe place in the pack even if it’s at the bottom of the pecking order. Self-criticism serves as a submissive behavior because it allows us to abase ourselves before imaginary others who pronounce judgment over us—then reward our submission with a few crumbs from the table. When we are forced to admit our failings, we can appease our mental judges by acquiescing to their negative opinions of us.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
So now you know why you—or your wonderful, successful friend—keep picking the wrong guy or gal. Self-critics are often attracted to judgmental romantic partners who confirm their feelings of worthlessness
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Sometimes when children act in difficult or tiresome ways, they are actually sending the message that they need their parents’ emotional support. It may not be attention that children are seeking but connection.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
take action to be more fulfilled, while also realizing that you are already whole and complete exactly as you are? The desire to meet your needs doesn’t come from a place of deficiency, but from an abundant heart.
Kristin Neff (Fierce Self-Compassion: How Women Can Harness Kindness to Speak Up, Claim Their Power, and Thrive)
When you find yourself carried away by thinking about the situation driving your painful feelings (which you’re likely to do), simply bring your awareness back to the physical sensation in your body, and start again.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Kristin Neff wisely observes, “When we’re in touch with our common humanity, we remember that feelings of inadequacy and disappointment are shared by all. This is what distinguishes self-compassion from self-pity. Whereas self-pity says ‘poor me,’ self-compassion remembers that everyone suffers, and it offers comfort because everyone is human. The pain I feel in difficult times is the same pain that you feel in difficult times.”4
J.P. Moreland (Finding Quiet: My Story of Overcoming Anxiety and the Practices that Brought Peace)
So it’s definitely not the case that self-compassion leads to complacency and inertia. Quite the opposite. By losing our fear of failure, we become free to challenge ourselves to a far greater degree than would otherwise be possible.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
What is this self inside us, this silent observer, Severe and speechless critic, who can terrorize us And urge us on to futile activity And in the end, judge us still more severely For the errors into which his own reproaches drove us? —T. S. ELIOT, The Elder Statesman
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
When we hold negative thoughts and feelings in nonjudgmental awareness, we are able to pay attention to them without getting stuck like Velcro. Mindfulness allows us to see that our negative thoughts and emotions are just that—thoughts and emotions—not necessarily reality. They are therefore given less weight—they are observed, but not necessarily believed. In this way, negatively biased thoughts and emotions are allowed to arise and pass away without resistance. This allows us to deal with whatever life brings our way with greater equanimity.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Our emotional suffering is caused by our desire for things to be other than they are. The more we resist the fact of what is happening right now, the more we suffer. Pain is like a gaseous substance. If you allow it to just be there, freely, it will eventually dissipate on its own. If you fight and resist the pain, however, walling it into a confined space, the pressure will grow and grow until there is an explosion.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Sometimes we need to be angry in order to have the courage to confront those threatening or disrespecting us. If we don’t get angry, we’ll be much less likely to stand up for ourselves. Because anger energizes us and focuses us on the threat at hand, it equips us to take self-protective action.
Kristin Neff (Fierce Self-Compassion: How Women Can Harness Kindness to Speak Up, Claim Their Power, and Thrive)
The desire to feel special is understandable. The problem is that by definition, it’s impossible for everyone to be above average at the same time. Although there are some ways in which we excel, there is always someone smarter, prettier, more successful. How do we cope with this? Not very well.
Kristin Neff
Self-compassion can help us develop a healthier, more authentic way of relating to sex. First and foremost, by being supportive and nurturing toward our sexuality—whatever shape or form it comes in—we can stop being victims of sexual shame. We don’t need to judge ourselves according to society’s mixed-up sexual norms.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Every human being has both positive and negative traits. Rather than running away with an exaggerated story line about either, good or bad, we instead need to honor and accept ourselves as we authentically are. No better and no worse. The key is having balance and perspective so that we can see ourselves without distortion.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Self-esteem is a fair-weather friend. It’s there when things go well but deserts you when things go badly, just when you need it most. Self-compassion is a perfect alternative to self-esteem. It doesn’t require feeling better than others, it isn’t contingent on other people liking you, and it doesn’t require getting things right.
Kristin Neff (Fierce Self-Compassion: How Women Can Harness Kindness to Speak Up, Claim Their Power, and Thrive)
As the seventeenth-century French philosopher Montaigne once said, “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune, most of which never happened.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
self-critical people tend to be dissatisfied in their romantic relationships because they assume their partners are judging them as harshly as they judge themselves.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
The best way to counteract self-criticism, therefore, is to understand it, have compassion for it, and then replace it with a kinder response.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
The Criticizer, the Criticized, and the Compassionate Observer
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
There is no right or wrong when it comes to sex, only what’s healthy or unhealthy for each individual or couple.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Tara Bennett-Goleman uses the metaphor of alchemy to symbolize the spiritual and emotional transformation that’s possible when we embrace our pain with caring concern. When we give ourselves compassion, the tight knot of negative self-judgment starts to dissolve, replaced by a feeling of peaceful, connected acceptance—a sparkling diamond that emerges from the coal.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
A beggar walked up to a well-dressed woman shopping on Rodeo Drive and said to her, ‘I haven’t eaten anything in four days.’ She looked at him and said, ‘God, I wish I had your willpower.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
If you are someone who tends to ruminate, or who suffers from anxiety and depression, it’s important that you don’t judge yourself for this way of being. Remember that rumination on negative thoughts and emotions stems from the underlying desire to be safe. Even though these brain patterns may be counterproductive, we can still honor them for trying so diligently to keep us out of the jaws of that crocodile. Also remember that although some people tend to ruminate more than others, all people have a negativity bias to some extent. It’s hardwired in our brains.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? —KAHLIL GIBRAN, The Prophet
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
One of the downsides of living in a culture that stresses the ethic of independence and individual achievement is that if we don’t reach our ideal goals, we feel that we only have ourselves to blame.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
The best context for examining this is a close friendship—because let’s face it, sometimes we’re not as compassionate as we might like to be with our children or partners or family members: they’re too close. We tend to have more space in our reactions with our friends, and we take them less for granted since these relationships are voluntary. This means we’re often our best selves with our close friends.
Kristin Neff (Fierce Self-Compassion: How Women Can Harness Kindness to Speak Up, Claim Their Power, and Thrive)
The beauty of self-compassion is that instead of replacing negative feelings with positive ones, new positive emotions are generated by embracing the negative ones. The positive emotions of care and connectedness are felt alongside our painful feelings. When we have compassion for ourselves, sunshine and shadow are both experienced simultaneously. This is important—ensuring that the fuel of resistance isn’t added to the fire of negativity. It also allows us to celebrate the entire range of human experience, so that we can become whole. As Marcel Proust said, “We are healed from suffering only by experiencing it to the full.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Even if we do manage to get our act together, the goalposts for what counts as “good enough” seem always to remain frustratingly out of reach. We must be smart and fit and fashionable and interesting and successful and sexy. Oh, and spiritual, too. And no matter how well we do, someone else always seems to be doing it better. The result of this line of thinking is sobering: millions of people need to take pharmaceuticals every day just to cope with daily life. Insecurity, anxiety, and depression are incredibly common in our society, and much of this is due to self-judgment, to beating ourselves up when we feel we aren’t winning in the game of life.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
We are the expression of millions of prior circumstances that have all come together to shape us in the present moment. Our economic and social background, our past associations and conversations, our culture, our family history, our genetics—they’ve all had a profound role in creating the person we are today. Zen master Thich Nhat Hahn calls this “interbeing.” If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud there will be no water; without water, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, you cannot make paper. So the cloud is in here. The existence of this page is dependent upon the existence of a cloud. Paper and cloud are so close.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
How Do You React to Yourself and Your Life? HOW DO YOU TYPICALLY REACT TO YOURSELF?          •    What types of things do you typically judge and criticize yourself for—appearance, career, relationships, parenting, and so on?          •    What type of language do you use with yourself when you notice some flaw or make a mistake—do you insult yourself, or do you take a more kind and understanding tone?          •    If you are highly self-critical, how does this make you feel inside?          •    What are the consequences of being so hard on yourself? Does it make you more motivated, or does it tend to make you discouraged and depressed?          •    How do you think you would feel if you could truly accept yourself exactly as you are? Does this possibility scare you, give you hope, or both?
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Exploring Self-Compassion Through Letter Writing PART ONE Everybody has something about themselves that they don’t like; something that causes them to feel shame, to feel insecure or not “good enough.” It is the human condition to be imperfect, and feelings of failure and inadequacy are part of the experience of living. Try thinking about an issue that tends to make you feel inadequate or bad about yourself (physical appearance, work or relationship issues, etc.). How does this aspect of yourself make you feel inside—scared, sad, depressed, insecure, angry? What emotions come up for you when you think about this aspect of yourself? Please try to be as emotionally honest as possible and to avoid repressing any feelings, while at the same time not being melodramatic. Try to just feel your emotions exactly as they are—no more, no less. PART TWO Now think about an imaginary friend who is unconditionally loving, accepting, kind, and compassionate. Imagine that this friend can see all your strengths and all your weaknesses, including the aspect of yourself you have just been thinking about. Reflect upon what this friend feels toward you, and how you are loved and accepted exactly as you are, with all your very human imperfections. This friend recognizes the limits of human nature and is kind and forgiving toward you. In his/her great wisdom this friend understands your life history and the millions of things that have happened in your life to create you as you are in this moment. Your particular inadequacy is connected to so many things you didn’t necessarily choose: your genes, your family history, life circumstances—things that were outside of your control. Write a letter to yourself from the perspective of this imaginary friend—focusing on the perceived inadequacy you tend to judge yourself for. What would this friend say to you about your “flaw” from the perspective of unlimited compassion? How would this friend convey the deep compassion he/she feels for you, especially for the discomfort you feel when you judge yourself so harshly? What would this friend write in order to remind you that you are only human, that all people have both strengths and weaknesses? And if you think this friend would suggest possible changes you should make, how would these suggestions embody feelings of unconditional understanding and compassion? As you write to yourself from the perspective of this imaginary friend, try to infuse your letter with a strong sense of the person’s acceptance, kindness, caring, and desire for your health and happiness. After writing the letter, put it down for a little while. Then come back and read it again, really letting the words sink in. Feel the compassion as it pours into you, soothing and comforting you like a cool breeze on a hot day. Love, connection, and acceptance are your birthright. To claim them you need only look within yourself.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
If we closely examine our “personal” failings, it soon becomes clear that they are not there by choice. Typically, outside circumstances conspired to form our particular patterns without our input. If you had control over your maladaptive thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, you wouldn’t still have them. You would have already jettisoned your dark, anxious, neurotic persona and become a calm, confident ray of sunshine. Clearly you don’t have complete control over your actions, or else you’d only act in ways that you approved of. So why are you judging yourself so harshly for the way you are?
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Connectedness is inherent to compassion. When compassion is turned inward, it means we acknowledge that all humans are imperfect and lead an imperfect life. While this may sound obvious, we often fall into the trap of believing that things should go well and that something has gone wrong when they don’t.
Kristin Neff (Fierce Self-Compassion: How Women Can Harness Kindness to Speak Up, Claim Their Power, and Thrive)
Lyubomirsky finds that several key factors make a difference in terms of maximizing happiness. Some of the most important are being grateful for what you have, looking at the bright side of difficult situations, not comparing yourself to others, practicing acts of kindness, being mindful, and savoring joy.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
When we give ourselves compassion, however, when we care for and look after ourselves, we can start to let go of society’s narrow definitions of how men and women are supposed to be sexually. We can start to love and accept ourselves exactly as we are and can express our sexuality in the way that most fulfills us.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless, that it doesn’t have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space. —PEMA CHÖDRÖN, Start Where You Are
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Other possible wordings for the first phrase, “This is a moment of suffering,” are “I’m having a really hard time right now,” “It’s painful for me to feel this now,” and so on. Other possible wordings for the second phrase, “Suffering is part of life,” are “Everyone feels this way sometimes,” “This is part of being human,” and so on. Other possible wordings for the third phrase, “May I be kind to myself in this moment,” are “May I hold my pain with tenderness,” “May I be gentle and understanding with myself,” and so on. Other possible wordings for the final phrase, “May I give myself the compassion I need,” are “I am worthy of receiving
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Every time you catch yourself being judgmental about your unwanted trait in the future, first notice the pain of your self-judgment and give yourself compassion. Then try to reframe your inner dialogue so that it is more encouraging and supportive. Remember that if you really want to motivate yourself, love is more powerful than fear.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
When mothers or fathers use harsh criticism as a means to keep their kids out of trouble (“don’t be so stupid or you’ll get run over by a car”), or to improve their behavior (“you’ll never get into college if you keep getting such pathetic grades”), children assume that criticism is a useful and necessary motivational tool. As comedian Phyllis Diller notes, “We spend the first twelve months of our children’s lives teaching them to walk and talk and the next twelve telling them to sit down and shut up.” Unsurprisingly, research shows that individuals who grow up with highly critical parents in childhood are much more likely to be critical toward themselves as adults.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Unlike self-criticism, which asks if you’re good enough, self-compassion asks what’s good for you? Self-compassion taps into your inner desire to be healthy and happy. If you care about yourself, you’ll do what you need to do to in order to learn and grow. You’ll want to change unhelpful patterns of behavior, even if that means giving up certain things you like for a while.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
If you are a habitual self-critic, remember that your behavior actually represents a convoluted form of self-care, an attempt to keep yourself safe and on track. You don’t want to beat yourself up for beating yourself up in the vain hope that it will somehow make you stop beating yourself up. Just as hate can’t conquer hate—but only strengthens and reinforces it—self-judgment can’t stop self-judgment.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
When qualities of kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness are applied toward the suffering of others, they manifest as compassion. When they’re applied to our own suffering, they manifest as self-compassion. When they’re directed toward others’ positive qualities, they manifest as mudita: sympathetic joy. And when they’re directed toward our own positive qualities, they manifest as self-appreciation.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
instead of relying on our relationship to meet all our needs for love, acceptance, and security, we could actually provide some of these feelings for ourselves. And this would mean that we had even more in our hearts to give to each other. We were both so moved by the concept of self-compassion that in our marriage ceremony later that year, each of us ended our vows by saying “Most of all, I promise to help you have compassion for yourself, so that you can thrive and be happy.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
This book will help you learn to practice mindfulness by teaching you two skills—awareness and compassion. These skills are like wings. Just as a bird or an airplane needs two wings to fly, you need these two skills to help you travel on your journey to recovery. I described mindfulness earlier as steady, open, and kind awareness. In order to take in our moment-to-moment experience with kind awareness, we must cultivate self-compassion. Dr. Kristin Neff (2003) defines self-compassion as an attitude of kindness toward ourselves, especially when suffering from painful experiences such as trauma. An important part of self-compassion is the understanding that life’s hardships and emotional pain are part of being human. They are not a personal failure. Instead of being harshly self-critical, we extend understanding and comfort to ourselves. Another important part of self-compassion is accepting that all human beings are in the same boat—none of us is perfect, and we all wish to be happy. If
Louanne Davis (Meditations for Healing Trauma: Mindfulness Skills to Ease Post-Traumatic Stress)
The Role of Parents The social group that is most important for survival, of course, is the immediate family. Children rely on their parents to provide food, comfort, warmth, and shelter. They instinctively trust parents to interpret the meaning of things, to help deal with scary new challenges, to keep them safe from harm’s way. Children have no choice but to rely on parents in order to get by in the world. Sadly, however, many parents don’t provide comfort and support, but rather try to control their children through constant criticism. Many of you have grown up this way.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
We grasp onto self-esteem as if it were an inflatable raft that will save us—or at least save and prop up the positive sense of self that we so crave—only to find that the raft has a gaping hole and is rapidly running out of air. The truth is this: sometimes we display good qualities and sometimes bad. Sometimes we act in helpful, productive ways and sometimes in harmful, maladaptive ways. But we are not defined by these qualities or behaviors. We are a verb not a noun, a process rather than a fixed “thing.” Our actions change—mercurial beings that we are—according to time, circumstance, mood, setting.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)
Understanding the narcissism epidemic is important because its long-term consequences are destructive to society. American culture’s focus on self-admiration has caused a flight from reality to the land of grandiose fantasy. We have phony rich people (with interest-only mortgages and piles of debt), phony beauty (with plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures), phony athletes (with performance-enhancing drugs), phony celebrities (via reality TV and YouTube), phony genius students (with grade inflation), a phony national economy (with $11 trillion of government debt), phony feelings of being special among children (with parenting and education focused on self-esteem), and phony friends (with the social networking explosion). All this fantasy might feel good, but unfortunately, reality always wins. The mortgage meltdown and the resulting financial crisis are just one demonstration of how inflated desires eventually crash to earth.
Kristin Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself)