The benefits of self-compassion and how to cultivate it for yourself

The benefits of self-compassion

In a world that has become increasingly obsessed with perfectionism, people must learn to be more compassionate with themselves.

Self-compassion is pivotal to our self-worth and well being, particularly when things go wrong in our lives, and the temptation to project blame onto ourselves becomes overwhelming.


Reverting to negative thought patterns and being critical towards ourselves is the easiest thing to do.

When everything falls apart, people tend to set unrealistic expectations about what they should or could have done better.

Critical voice

Being self-critical erodes our self-esteem and self-confidence and allows us to stay trapped in a cycle of negative thoughts and feelings.

When people experience difficulty in their lives, they tend to listen to that critical voice within, which tells them they are not good enough and that they are somehow to blame for whatever tragedy has befallen them.

Feel pain

Mental health experts explain that it’s perfectly okay to feel pain occasionally, but the trick is not to stay caught in those feelings for too long.

Negative emotions are all part of the human experience; there would be no room for growth without life’s challenges.

However, people must strive to build resilience in the more harrowing moments, and if possible, surround themselves with self-compassionate people.

What self-compassion means

What self-compassion means

There are plenty of diverse descriptions for self-compassion. Still, perhaps the most accurate is that self-compassion refers to being kind, understanding and accepting of your humanness, rather than choosing self-judgment or focusing on your shortcomings.

The benefits of practicing self-compassion

Research shows that practising self-compassion comes with numerous benefits such as:

Silencing your inner critic

Self-compassion entails honing in on your best qualities and knowing how to silence your inner critic, which many agree is a lot easier than it sounds!

Self-compassion practice takes time and commitment. However, there are ways you can develop more self-compassion.

Self-compassion skills

Self-compassion encourages people to enjoy a better quality of life. 

In addition, being a compassionate person allows people to cultivate a more robust growth mindset that can lead to higher self-esteem and a more positive attitude.

High self-esteem

High self-esteem and developing compassion have gotten linked to better mental health outcomes, particularly for those who suffer from depression.

Research has shown that in people who have gone through a suicide attempt, self-criticism gets linked to more profound depressive thoughts and less self-worth and self-compassion.

Why it’s important to practice self-compassion

Studies also showed a positive link between good mental health and self-compassion and posit how these qualities reduce the negative implications of self-criticism on those with depressive traits.

Developing self-compassion

Practising self-compassion regularly or as part of your daily routine will undoubtedly change your life for the better.

Self-kindness without critical self-judgment will increase your chances of having more positive emotions and thus improve the way you feel about yourself and life in general.

Below are some ways you can learn to cultivate self-compassion:

#1. Modify your inner critic

When we feel inadequate or perhaps believe that we are a bad person, our behaviour follows suit.

Moreover, when we talk to ourselves harshly or allow that inner critic within to take over, our sense of self-worth is one of the first things to take a hit.

Personal growth takes time

Changing how you feel and how you talk to yourself isn’t going to happen straight away. It takes time to make positive changes and develop a more profound sense of self-awareness.

However, with the right amount of persistence and mindfulness practice, change is possible.

When that inner critic begins to surface, you may consider:

  • Replacing negative phrases with positive ones – These phrases should be authentic and positive. Instead of saying, ”wow, I’m such a failure,” replace the thought with a more positive albeit realistic phraseology such as ” I failed at this task. But I did the best I could with the knowledge and resources I had at the time. Just because I didn’t succeed at one thing doesn’t make me a failure.”
  • Catch the inner critic – Mental health experts say that catching our inner critic and managing difficult emotions is a helpful way to stop the cycle of negative thoughts. Writing our feelings down is another practical way to stop feeling wrong about something. Consider the words and tone of your inner dialogue and write them down.

#2. Take self-compassion ‘timeouts’

Mindful self-compassion involves taking a break and allowing yourself some ‘timeout’ to decompress.

Psychologists describe three main aspects of self-compassion, they include:

  • Common humanity – understanding that suffering, bad experiences and personal difficulties are all part of our shared humanity. Everyone experiences challenges at some stage.
  • Self-kindness – cultivating compassion and warmth when we suffer, fail or feel off-kilter, instead of ignoring our pain or beating ourselves up with self-criticism.
  • Mindfulness – allowing ourselves to be in the present moment and raising awareness of our thoughts and feelings without judgment will enable us to stay positive and cultivate good feelings.


Cultivating self-compassion breaks allows individuals to connect with themselves, which gives them the space to be less judgmental and facilitate self-kindness over self-criticism.

Self-compassion exercises

When implementing self-compassion timeouts, it may be helpful to think of a situation that has caused stress for you and engage in mindfulness techniques to bring that stress into awareness.


For example, you might adopt phrases such as, ”This is a difficult moment.” By doing this, you have brought the situation into awareness which is the mindfulness element of the exercise.

Common humanity

The next step is to bring our shared humanity into awareness. 

All this involves acknowledging that suffering is a part of life, and you may repeat encouraging phrases such as ”We all struggle at some point. I’m not the only one that feels this way.”

Asking crucial questions

During challenging moments, researchers say that asking ourselves crucial questions is integral to managing our emotions and cultivating kindness.

For example, a person may ask themselves,” what do I need to tell myself right now to express self-kindness?”

#3. Talk to yourself in the same way you would a friend

Self-compassionate people understand that treating themselves with the same level of kindness and respect that they would give a good friend is crucial to being more self-compassionate and having balanced awareness.

It is the human condition to make mistakes from time to time, and when someone close to us messes up or does something wrong, we know what to say and do to make them feel better.

Positive feedback

When friends and family members make monumental mistakes, we are the first to show up and offer compassion, understanding and provide helpful advice when needed.

So, why is all this so hard to do for ourselves?!

Good job

Research suggests that self-critics find it challenging to create self-supported images and feelings for the self.

It tends to be that much easier to dismiss our own well being and personal development and generate supportive feelings towards our friends and family.

However, experts say that to develop self-compassion, people must learn to become their own best friends!



Practical ways to develop self-compassion in challenging moments is to engage in the following:

  • Write down supportive statements you would say to a friend and then think about how you respond to yourself
  • Note down what you say, how you say it and how that makes you feel
  • Reflect on the differences and similarities
  • Highlight the supportive statements you are going to use towards yourself the next time


By making a realistic assessment of ourselves, we get better positioned to improve how we do things and treat ourselves in the future.

The benefits of self-compassion are endless and pivotal to cultivating positive emotional well being.

Self-compassion involves recognizing the many ways we handle ourselves in challenging situations and what we can do to improve our responses.

When we practice mindfulness or engage in therapy, we are much more likely to experience self-compassion and utilize the tools needed to navigate our lives.

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If you want to learn to be more self-compassionate, get in touch with one of our specialists who can help you do just that.

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