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Practising self-compassion

In this video, Richards review the self-compassion exercise and explores how self-compassion is different from self-criticism.

Watch Richard review the self-compassion exercise and explore how self-compassion is different from self-criticism.


When some people practise self-compassion, they may actually experience more pain at first. Leading self-compassion researcher Kristin Neff refers to this phenomena as backdraft (imagine the door of a burning house being opened and as the oxygen goes in, the flames burst out).

In her Tips for practice, Kristen writes:

“A similar process can occur when we open the door of our hearts – love goes in and old pain comes out…. Fortunately, we can meet old pain with the resources of mindfulness and self-compassion and the heart will naturally begin to heal. Still, it means we have to allow ourselves to be slow learners when it comes to practicing self-compassion. And if we ever feel overwhelmed by difficult emotions, the most self-compassionate response may be to pull back temporarily – focus on the breath, the sensation of the soles of our feet on the ground, or engage in ordinary, behavioral acts of self-care such as having a cup of tea or petting the cat. By doing so we reinforce the habit of self-compassion – giving ourselves what we need in the moment – planting seeds that will eventually blossom and grow.”

Tend and befriend

Go to See also for a paper about the “tend and befriend circuits” that are activated when we practise self-compassion.

Note: The paper talks more about interpersonal tending/befriending and social bonding under stress, but we can bring this same attitude to ourselves.

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Maintaining a Mindful Life

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