Cultivating Self-Compassion

Lord, help me accept the truth about myself no mat­ter how good it is!” —Bill O’Hanlon

It doesn’t take much to be self-critical. When we’re feel­ing anx­ious, depressed, angry, or hurt, it’s prob­a­bly because we aren’t lik­ing our­selves at that moment. Self-compassion is an anti­dote to much of the anx­i­ety we expe­ri­ence. Research shows that hav­ing com­pas­sion for our­selves nat­u­ral­ly leads to feel­ing more com­pas­sion­ate toward and con­nect­ed to oth­ers. See Kristen Neff’s exten­sive research for more details.

Moving from self-criticism to self-kindness gives us a pro­found sense of well-being.

In this group of eight people over an eight-week period, we will learn how to:

  • devel­op self-compassion as moti­va­tion for change
  • calm our ner­vous sys­tem and cope more effec­tive­ly with stress and anxiety
  • cre­ate an atti­tude of humil­i­ty, grat­i­tude, and accep­tance of our­selves and others

In the Cultivating Self-Compassion Group, one of the things we do is write a self-compassionate let­ter to our­selves, a dif­fi­cult let­ter for many to write. When one par­tic­i­pant told her daugh­ter what she was doing, the daugh­ter said, “Oh, that’s easy,” and pro­ceed­ed to write the fol­low­ing. How eas­i­ly we for­get what was once nat­ur­al and straight from our heart.

Dear Me,.
I Love you so much,. So very, very much!
I want to tell you all the things I appre­ci­ate about you .
I appre­ci­ate that I am a unique human being.
I appre­ci­ate that I am a thought­ful and Loving per­son. I appre­ci­ate that I take care of my body. I appre­ci­ate that I tell myself the truth!
I love you,. Love me
—Sage, age 10

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The group Cultivating Self-Compassion has opened my eyes to treat­ing myself with the same kind­ness, regard, respect, and com­pas­sion with which I try to treat oth­ers. And although this prac­tice is still very new, [it] is mak­ing such a calm­ing dif­fer­ence. It is also mak­ing me much more aware of the trig­gers for stress and anx­i­ety that assault us in every­day life and some tools to cope with them.… By try­ing to make these lessons my own, my life has changed for the bet­ter and will con­tin­ue to change as I walk down this new, excit­ing, empow­er­ing path. Yes, I was/am open to these changes but could not have made them with­out an excel­lent teacher—you. So, many thanks for help­ing me to improve the qual­i­ty of my life. JC

Swan Lake

Thank you for this, Jennifer. Thank you for cre­at­ing the sacred con­tain­er of our group where hearts and souls have opened and allowed oth­ers to peek in, thank you for your sweet and gen­tle guid­ance, and thank you for being “you.” I appre­ci­ate you and hon­or your gift! ML

Holy Crap! I’m a pos­i­tive per­son! —Participant com­ment at the com­ple­tion of the group

Dear­est Jennifer,
Thank you so much for cre­at­ing such a safe and clear envi­ron­ment for us to learn about cul­ti­vat­ing self-compassion. It was one of the best groups I have ever been involved with. I learned so much and felt like I was tru­ly part of a com­mu­ni­ty work­ing on learn­ing to love, accept, and embrace all of the aspects of what makes each of us so unique and indi­vid­ual. Your open­ness and gen­tle guid­ance encour­aged all of us to speak our truth and to open to the soft vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of “true self.” I learned to speak to myself as a moth­er to her child or as a dear friend. My wish is that every­one has an oppor­tu­ni­ty to expe­ri­ence this. My grat­i­tude is deep and wide! MLP