December 21, 2022
Mental Health

Being human is not about being any one particular way; it is about being as life creates you—with your own particular strengths and weaknesses, gifts and challenges, quirks and oddities.

Kristin Neff


Do you find it awkward or uncomfortable to think or speak kindly about yourself? Do you find it easier to do the same toward a loved one, like a family member or friend? Oftentimes in the U.S., women and those who hold other minoritized identities are socialized to be humble and are told that speaking about accomplishments is labeled as bragging. The impact of this message is holding judgment toward the self, easily finding faults, and shrinking to fit in. This is harmful for our mental health and can lead to diminished self-esteem and feelings of worth.


The practice of mindful self-compassion (Neff & Germer, 2018) allows for people to begin showing the same love, compassion, and kindness toward themself that they show to their loved ones (self-kindness). With the central question, “How would you treat a friend?,” we can begin taking steps toward encouraging ourselves, acknowledging our strengths, and living a more content and happy life. 


All humans experience suffering and pain (common humanity), yet when we offer ourselves self-compassion, we are able to work through this suffering, instead of feeling inadequate, panicky, or judgmental. If your loved one made a mistake, would you spend time shaming them and making them feel bad about themself? Likely, you would not do that and instead would comfort them, remind them that everyone makes mistakes, and tell them you still love them. What would it be like to be that kind of friend to yourself? 


The three components of mindful self-compassion are self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness in this process allows us to be present in the moment, to notice our pain, but not judge it, to check in with how we feel, and to begin offering our self some kindness. One way to do this is to have a regular loving kindness meditation practice. Try this one from Kristin Neff & Christopher Germer’s Mindful Self Compassion Workbook (2018, pp. 65-67):


Allow yourself to settle into a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down. If you like, put a hand over your heart or another location that is soothing as a reminder to bring not only awareness, but loving awareness to your experience and to yourself.


A Living Being That Makes You Smile

Bring to mind a person or other living being who naturally makes you smile—someone with whom you have an easy, uncomplicated relationship. This could be a child, your grandmother, your cat or dog—whoever naturally brings happiness to your heart. If many people or other living beings arise, just choose one.

Let yourself feel what it’s like to be in that being’s presence. Allow yourself to enjoy the good company. Create a vivid image of this being in your mind’s eye.

May You . . .

Now, recognize how this being wishes to be happy and free from suffering, just like you and every other living being. Repeat silently, feeling the importance of your words:

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peaceful.
  • May you be healthy.
  • May you live with ease.

(Repeat several times, slowly and gently.)

You may wish to use your own phrases if you have ones you normally work with, or continue to repeat these phrases.

When you notice that your mind has wandered, return to the words and the image of the loved one you have in mind. Savor any warm feelings that may arise. Take your time.

May You and I (We) . . .

Now add yourself to your circle of goodwill. Create an image of yourself in the presence of your loved one, visualizing you both together.

  • May you and I be happy.
  • May you and I be peaceful.
  • May you and I be healthy.
  • May you and I live with ease.

(Repeat several times, using “we” rather than “you and I” if you like.)

Now let go of the image of the other, perhaps thanking your loved one before moving on, and then letting the full focus of your attention rest directly on yourself.

May I . . .

Put your hand over your heart, or elsewhere, and feel the warmth and gentle pressure of your hand. Visualize your whole body in your mind’s eye, noticing any stress or uneasiness that may be lingering within you, and offering yourself the phrases. 

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be healthy.
  • May I live with ease.

(Repeat several times, with warmth.)

Finally, take a few breaths and just rest quietly in your own body, accepting whatever your experience is, exactly as it is.


This practice takes time and we are here to support you through this process at The Happy Hour. Therapy is a great place to learn how to provide yourself with the self-compassion that you deserve!