Self-Compassion Playlist

This week I was introducing the self-compassion break  to a wonderful group of palliative care patients at a hospice where I work.

I’ve taken Kristin Neff’s ideas and amended them slightly in creating my own self-compassion break. This is something to fall back on in times of difficulty, pain, self-judgement etc. The self-compassion break is comprised of three elements which you repeat to yourself such as:

  • this is a moment of suffering (this hurts, just acknowledging it’s hard right now to be feeling this), so this is  a moment of suffering …
  • and suffering is part of the human experience, it’s part of human life, its ok we all go through it
  • so may I be kind to myself in this moment, may I give myself the compassion I need, and that’s key reminding myself what do I really need right now and then giving it to myself

The idea is to devise your own set of phrases that work for you and then memorise them a bit like a mantra. Mine are:

This is painful

Everybody hurts sometimes  (REM song!)

What’s the kindest thing I can do for myself right now/what do I need right now?

I explained that I had thought of the REM song to represent that sense of not being the only one in pain in this moment and the group really liked that linking to a piece of music. We had some fun playing around with some suggestions but we struggled a little with songs for the third element of ‘asking what’s the kindest thing I can do for myself now?’  I ran out of ideas but promised I would come back to them next Monday with a longer list.

But I’m struggling and would really welcome any ideas you have for suitable songs. Some suggestions so far are:

  • Free – Ultranate
  • Try a Little Tenderness – Otis Redding
  • Bridge Over Troubled Water -Simon & Garfunkel
  • One -U2

If you can think of any songs (however weird and wonderful!) that for you capture a sense of self-kindness or would remind you to be kind to yourself  could you please, please post them in the Comments section below. That will really encourage others and get them inspired by your suggestions. And then I can take your ideas back to the group on Monday – and I think the thought that others have come up with some suggestions for them will be very powerful.  Thank you.

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21 Responses to Self-Compassion Playlist

  1. Jill says:

    Sorry this is belated Kate – being compassionate to myself during a busy week!
    The song that sprang to mind is The Rose – Bette Midler and West Life have both released a version but I was first introduced to the song on a weekend called ‘Anyone can sing’ and a lady with a beautiful voice sang it and moved me to tears.
    Hope this isn’t too late.
    Jill x

    • Kate says:

      Hi Jill,

      Thank you for another idea – I’m compiling a list of all songs that have been suggested for future use so this will go on it, so definitely not too late. Kate

  2. Marion says:

    Some great songs so far!
    Here are some more to consider:
    All you need is love by the Beatles
    I ain’t got no; I got life – Nina Simone
    Fix You – Coldplay
    Angel by Sarah McLauchlan
    Shine Silently – Nils Lofgren
    Angels walk among us – Anathema
    When you come back down – Nickel Creek
    Love M x

    • Kate says:

      Hi Marion, Fantastic suggestions! That Beatles one completely passed me by and yet isn’t that what we need at any moment of pain? I haven’t heard many of the others but am really looking forward to tracking them all down. I am so enjoying everyone’s suggestions – they’re just great
      Kate x

  3. Ineke says:

    Some comforting songs are:
    Secret O’ Life, James Taylor
    What a wonderful world, Louis Armstrong
    Smile by Charles Chaplin, lots of artists (Josh Groban is very nice)
    Tenderness, Paul Simon

    • Kate says:

      Thank you again Ineke for some thoughtful and interesting suggestions – out of those you’ve suggested which one would you choose to listen to if you were struggling and you wanted to remind yourself that you need some tender care? Kate x

      • Ineke says:

        The one I would choose from my suggestions is Hero. But after reading your question (if you want to remind yourself….. ) I found myself humming and singing You’ve got a friend by Carole King: When you’re down, and troubled, and you need some lovin’ care….. And I remembered You can close your eyes by James Taylor (for the sleepless).
        What I actually do when I want to comfort myself is listen to a guided imagination by Belleruth Naparstek (favorites are Grief, Insomnia and Trauma). She also made one for dying; I only heard a sample of that one, very moving. Her voice is a caress.
        Or I listen to the Requiem by Mozart, Stabat Mater by Pergolesi, or the last of the 4 last songs by Strauss, sung by Jessey Norman.
        It was a good experience, helping you find good songs. I listened to a lot of sweet music the last two days. Found a very nice version of What a wonderful world, by Eva Cassidy & Katie Melua, and much more. Inspiring. I wish you and your group all the best and will be thinking of you on Monday. Love Ineke

      • Kate says:


        I so appreciate your kindness and thoughtfulness in sharing your ideas and suggestions, they seem so rich and powerful. I’m so glad that you found the experience uplifting – somehow it seems at times that music seems to reach places that words can’t. I think the Group on Monday will be touched that you and all the other kind contributors came forward with so many beautiful songs.Love Kate

  4. Kate says:

    Karen has agreed that I can post her suggestions- thank you Karen x :
    Hi Kate,

    Hope the following sound/feel appropriate in the circumstances: Initially… Smile though your heart is breaking; Beautiful (Christina Aguilera)…”You are beautiful in every single way..”; Three little birds, Bob Marley?; Let it be, Beatles; Somewhere over the Rainbow; I wish you peace, The Eagles.
    I will carry on racking my brains and let you know of anymore that come to mind. Good Luck!

  5. Peter says:

    Bob Dylan – Stop crying – From Street legal
    Bob Dylan – Every grain of sand – From Shot of Love
    Bob Dylan – Ring them bells – From Oh Mercy
    Bob Dylan – Most of the time – From Oh Mercy
    Bob Dylan – You angel you – From Planet Waves
    Bob Dylan – Shelter from the storm – From Blood on the Tracks
    Kate – there may be a theme emerging here!
    and best of all
    Bob Dylan – Forever young – From Planet Waves (either version)

    • Kate says:

      HaHa – you don’t say! However putting themes aside some great sounding songs which again I’m going to have to listen to not being the Dylan aficionado you are… thank you for taking the time to reply Pete very much appreciated x

  6. Ineke says:

    The one that immediately comes to mind is Hero by Mariah Carey. Will come back with more. Love, Ineke

    • Kate says:

      Wonderful Ineke! Hadn’t thought of that one at all. This is getting so interesting – some great suggestions coming through don’t you think? Kate x

  7. samantha says:

    I vote for “A Rose is Still a Rose” by Aretha Franklin. Its not really compassion per say but is about loving yourself irrespective of another’s treatment or opinion.

    The lines that stand out for me in regards to this thread are:

    “Let your life be in the sunshine
    Not the darkness of your sorrow
    You may see you’re all today
    When you know it’ll come tomorrow”


    • Kate says:

      Hi Samantha – I don’t know that song but the sentiments sound spot on, so another one for me to look up on You Tube! Thank you for your inspiration! Kate x

  8. Sarah says:

    You got the love by The source ft Candi Staton/Florence & the Machine
    Beautiful – Christina Aguilera
    True Colours – Cyndi Lauper
    Greatest love of all – Whitney Houston
    Everyday people – Sly and the Family Stone
    All Brilliant and so very different
    Hope they help

    • Kate says:

      Fantastic suggestions Sarah…I’m going to remind myself of some of those and look them up on You Tube x

  9. Hazel says:

    Bob Marley’s “One Love” works for me !


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