Is Self-Compassion just a warm and fluffy experience?

Why is self-compassion good for us?

There seems to be a view that self-compassion is just a soft and fluffy thing to do – like cuddling a soft rabbit.

Cuddly Rabbits!

Cuddly Rabbits!

There are some hard facts out there. According to Kristin Neff, one of the world’s leading researchers into self-compassion, research strongly indicates that self-compassion offers emotional resiliency.

People who are self-compassionate are:

Less anxious

Less depressed

Less stressed

Less perfectionistic – they are not constantly beating themselves up if they make a mistake

Self-compassionate people tend to have a more comfortable relationship with their bodies which includes experiencing less shame about not having a perfect body. This is something I have found. It’s not easy for me because I have a lot of hang ups about the way I look and as I age it gets harder still. Developing my self-compassion has enabled me to ride the wrinkles, the downward trend of my body with more kindness and far less self-criticsm than I used to have when I was much younger.

Self-compassion is also equally strongly related to positive states related to happiness, optimism, self-confidence, life satisfaction, curiosity, creativity. Self-compassion offers a path to more joy and happiness!

Research shows SC is powerfully predictive of psychological well-being.

What else do you need to convince yourself to give self-compassion a try?!

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Maya Angelou & Self-Compassion

My son sent me an email recently as he thought I might like what he had found….

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

I did …so thought I’d share with you what he sent:

“…just been reading all these beautiful stories people had of reading/meeting Maya Angelou, the famous African American poet that’s just died and done so much for civil rights ( There was just one story at the end I thought you would especially like:

‘I saw Maya Angelou when she played the Liverpool Philharmonic in the ’90s. I almost didn’t go into the hall that night. I had gone alone and was of low mood, and suffering with depression. But something pushed me into the hall, three rows from the stage. At one point, in her magnificent way, she looked directly at me, pointed and said, “How can you love someone if you don’t love yourself? Would you trust a naked man if he offered you his shirt?” She changed my life that night, as she touched the hearts of many.- Sophia Blow, Liverpool, UK”

Goes right to the heart of self-compassion – How can you love someone if you don’t love yourself?

Lovely story, great words … (and thoughtful son!).



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Changing your Brain and Generosity Through Compassion Meditation Training

I’ve been meaning to tell you about this for some time but got waylaid I’m afraid but here it is at last. BBC Radio 4’s All in the Mind programme (recorded last year) had an interesting segment about compassion training. In it they discuss recent research which shows that adults can be trained to be more compassionate. Helen Weng, the researcher, describes how they had participants build compassion with different categories of people, first starting with someone whom they easily felt compassion for, like a friend or family member and then building up ‘strength’ until  they practiced compassion for someone they actively had conflict with called the “difficult person,” such as a challenging co-worker.



Here’s the link to the programme …the segment on compassion starts at about 21 minutes in.

If you want to try the compassion practices they used in the research click here to go to the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds where you can access the Compassion Training Audio Downloads that were used in the research.

Whilst there was some demonstrable effects on behaviour and activation in relevant brain areas Helen Weng does caution that to maintain your compassion you need to keep practising (bit like building muscles except this time it’s a compassion muscle).

Next blog I’ll let you in on some recent training I had with Bangor University in mindfulness based cognitive therapy for cancer. Wonderful experience even though it was challenging at times! I picked up some short practices that you might find really useful…more in a later blog.

Finally, DATE for the Diary: I’ve fixed a date for my self-compassion workshop. It will be in Chester on Saturday 19th July, more details to follow. Numbers will be limited to 10 so if you are interested do contact me and I will put your name on a list so that you get first refusal before I advertise it more widely. And don’t forget when booking opens any current subscribers to my blog will receive a discount on the workshop fee!

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Why I’ve been so quiet of late….

I am so sorry that I have been out of contact for the last couple of months…it’s not what I planned but the first deadline in my PhD loomed and I needed to finalise my research plan and get it before the various university research committees by certain deadlines.

The perils of studying ...

The perils of studying …

Oh and I’ve also started a six month contract at a hospice where I’m counselling patients, family members and the bereaved as well as running mindfulness and self-compassion sessions for patients. So it has been a bit hectic of late.

Just in case you’re intrigued and wondering what on earth I’m spending my time doing the [sexy] title as it currently stands of my research is “Flexible self-compassion training for carers and nurses of individuals with life limiting and terminal illness”. As part of my research I will be finalising my own self-compassion programme and then running a pilot before launching a full blown study. A lot of work beckons but it’s very exciting (please don’t remind me I said this when I’m hitting a wall further down the line and am wishing I had never started…!).

Being back in a hospice reminds me how hard it is for patients, carers and nurses to take care of themselves – they are always putting others first and generally don’t believe that they too matter and need to prioritise themselves sometimes. Does this ring true for you? If so I would really appreciate you sharing your thoughts below in the Comments. Perhaps you have personal experience of this or in your own work life you see this. I would really value your thoughts on this.

Going forwards I will now be immersing myself in all things compassion based and plan to send you nuggets of information and ideas as I plough through the literature…And I will be running a self-compassion workshop in July here in Chester. Once the date and venue has been finalised I will let you know.

Good News!! DISCOUNTS – hoorah!! As you have been with me from such an early stage on this journey and as a very valued subscriber to my web site I will be offering you a discount on the cost of the workshop. Keep watching for further news.

Take care,


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21 Stimulating Compassion Videos …

I’ve just reignited my crush on Kristin Neff – one of the world’s leading researchers into self-compassion. She speaks so eloquently and powerfully about the advantages of developing self-compassion and its link to resilience at the 2013 Empathy and Compassion in Society Conference.

Check out the Conference page where there are a number of videos from key speakers from that Conference. Some very interesting stuff here!

Kristin’s talk is about 25 minutes but if you haven’t got time to listen to all of it I recommend checking in at about 7 minutes 50 seconds when she illustrates the gestures of self-compassion and goes on to explain how the threat system gets involved in how we attack ourselves.

I haven’t listened to all the videos so if you have a favourite please let me know below or if you have any comments please share them here. Out of the ones that I have watched, I found the three and a half minute video of Jo Berry talking about the murder of her father and her talks with the man who planted the bomb that killed him particularly inspiring and moving. Dr Emma Seppala talks engagingly about the research that’s ongoing into cultivating compassion – my area of research too. A lady to watch!

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