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Kristin Neff: Mindfulness and Self-Compassion

“When faced with experiences of suffering or personal failure, self-compassion entails three basic components: (a) self-kindness — extending kindness and understanding to oneself rather than harsh judgment and self-criticism, (b) common humanity — seeing one’s experiences as part of the larger human experience rather than seeing them as separating and isolating, and (c) mindfulness — holding one’s painful thoughts and feelings in balanced awareness rather than over-identifying with them. While these aspects of self-compassion are conceptually distinct, and are experienced differently at the phenomenological level, they also interact so as to mutually enhance and engender one another. It has already been argued that a certain degree of mindfulness is needed in order to allow enough mental distance from one’s negative experiences that feelings of self-kindness and common humanity can arise. However, mindfulness also makes a more direct contribution to the other two components. First, the nonjudgmental, detached stance of mindfulness lessens self-criticism and increases self-understanding (Jopling, 2000), thus directly enhancing self-kindness. Also, the balanced perspective-taking of mindfulness directly counters the egocentrism that causes feelings of isolation and separateness from the rest of humanity, thereby increasing feelings of interconnectedness (Elkind, 1969).”

Kristin Neff: Mindfulness and Self-Compassion was last updated February 10th, 2016 by Mike Schleif

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