Using self-compassion to heal

Using self-compassion to heal

What is self-compassion?

Compassion is the art of being kind, warm, sympathetic and concerned with the difficulties someone is experiencing. It is a lack of criticism or blame towards someone for their faults or behaviours. Self-compassion is that same experience, directed towards oneself.

Self-compassion is a powerful tool. It can increase mental wellbeing, reduce negative thinking styles, relieve the influence of negative experiences and prevent events from affecting us too deeply. While it is not a panacea, without some self-compassion recovery from negative events would be difficult.

Many people, even those who are highly compassionate towards others, struggle to show compassion towards themselves. They hold higher standards for themselves than they do for others. However, without self-compassion, compassion towards others can reduce and compassion fatigue may occur.

How to use self-compassion to heal

To help yourself using self-compassion:

  • Make links: current trauma or stress often resonates with older events. To have self-compassion, try to understand yourself and make links with past events. Consider your behaviours and emotional responses: where do they come from?
  • Be your own best friend: be kind to yourself. If you find yourself being critical then ask yourself how you would speak to a friend who was in the same situation. You are unlikely to speak as harshly. Try to talk to yourself as you would your loved ones
  • Accept the situation and yourself: accept all that you are and that you feel. While this is a hard thing to achieve, simply aiming for it can be a great start. Avoid thoughts of what ‘should’ or ‘should not’ have happened
  • Be mindful of your feelings: look inwards and truly reflect on what you are feeling. Mindfulness exercises may help you to become more attuned to your own thoughts and feelings.
  • Write to yourself: a letter to yourself from the point of view of another, for example an imaginary therapist or friend. If flaws or errors must be written about then the other person will write them in a kind, compassionate way and balance them with reflections on strengths and positive attributes
  • Allow imperfections: if you hold very high expectations of yourself you may not allow yourself any errors or character imperfections. However, we are all human and therefore flawed. Setting unachievable goals is likely to lead to a lack of mental wellbeing and instead, allowing and acknowledging your imperfections will lead to a more balanced view

Seeking support

If you have experienced a negative life event of traumatic experience and are struggling with self-compassion, then you may benefit from professional support to help you process your difficulties and the changes in your life. If you would like to discuss the issues spoken of in this article, then contact Dr Julie Hannan now on 07530 854530. Dr Julie Hannan specialises in midlife concerns; further information can be found at