Dr. Kristin Neff


October 2, 2012

I started reading a book recently entitled Self-Compassion by Dr. Kristin Neff. Self-compassion is a powerful concept, and it’s one I never considered because:

A.) I never heard of it, and
B.) It never came naturally to me.

The idea behind it is simple really: be kind and compassionate to yourself when confronted with personal failings. It’s often easy to have compassion for others, offering understanding and kindness during times of strife or when mistakes are made. Yet, when it comes to ourselves, we can mercilessly judge and criticize ourselves for our various shortcomings. This whole concept struck a chord with me because beating myself up DOES come naturally to me, as I think it does to many others. I never considered that I could be kind to myself. Everyone makes mistakes. No one is perfect. We are all a part of a shared human experience.

Self-compassion is NOT self-pity or self-indulgence. Self-compassion entails being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism. For cronic self-beater-uppers like me, I look at it as a way to retrain my brain to be more emotionally healthy.

I wanted to share a story from the book that resonated with me:

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, 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.”

For more information on self-compassion, visit http://www.self-compassion.org/.