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Tools for Healing: Self-Compassion

Compassion is not some kind of self-improvement project or ideal that we’re trying to live up to. Having compassion starts and ends with having compassion for all those unwanted parts of ourselves. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen; room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.
— Pema Chodron

What is self-compassion?

Self-compassion is the skill of directing self-kindness instead of self-judgment. Self-compassion is a soft tone speaking to the parts of us that are most vulnerable. It looks like caring and giving attention to our pain. It is always available, it is unlimited tenderness when we can accept reality as it is rather than ignoring the pain or trying to control outcomes.

How does compassionate detachment relate to me?

At times we may feel deeply for others and want to support them. Sometimes we want to break our boundaries or become overextended to meet the needs of others. This often leads to a feeling of depletion and comes at a cost to our health. Compassionate detachment is caring for someone while simultaneously caring for ourselves. It looks like recognizing when the suffering of someone is outside of what we have the capacity to support. It requires space to grieve and the ability to hold powerlessness and kindness together.

Tips for practicing:

  • Take self-compassion breaks.

Part of holding self-compassion means allowing there to be pauses of kindness and reflection. When we have self-compassion breaks we are able to be present with self and turn our attention inward. Asking

What am I observing?

What am I feeling (in my body)?

What am I needing right now?

Do I have a request of myself or someone else?

  • Shift the perspective.

In times of stress around the holidays, we may be harsh with ourselves. Using a positive reframe may help refocus the things we have control over and create an awareness of what is good.

Example: Family gatherings will never get better.

Reframe: This is hard, and I’m doing what can right now and that is enough.



  • Practice the R.A.I.N. of self-compassion

R: recognizing what is happening

A: Allow life to be as it is

I: Investigate inner experience with kindness

N: Nurture and non-identification

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