How to develop self compassion? CBT Guide

Compared to self-esteem or self-confidence, self-compassion is a less well-known term. The two ideas are different, even while it is true that those who practice self-compassion typically have better self-esteem. Self-esteem typically entails assessing oneself in light of others. Contrarily, self-compassion abstains from condemning oneself or others. While practicing self-compassion and practising self-care are both essential, they are not the same thing. “Self-care involves “actions” complemented by taking measures and activities that incorporate concern for self, whereas self-compassion encompasses a “attitude” of overall kindness and concern for self”. Being friendly to oneself is the definition of self-kindness. Recognizing that suffering and individual insufficiency are a part of the universal human experience is what is meant by “common humanity.” A nonjudgmental mental state that is open to all kinds of emotions is referred to as mindfulness. In general, self-compassion entails acknowledging your humanness and your capacity for error. Additionally, it implies that you don’t obsess about your errors or punish yourself for making them. Self-compassion is the ability to respect and embrace your own humanity as well as the reality that life will provide you with a variety of challenging situations, some of which may even be your fault. Being gracious to oneself means having self-compassion. It’s common for people to reject the concept of self-compassion, thinking that it only serves as a way of covering up bad behaviour or engaging in unnecessary indulgences. However, research on self-compassion has produced a wealth of evidence disproving that claim, reporting that the opposite is actually true: there are many advantages to practising self-compassion.


  • Put off tasks less. The people who practise self-compassion spend less time procrastinating when it comes time to do a task as opposed to those who try to utilise guilt, shame, or fear as motivators to accomplish a project or objective.
  • Try again after failing. After a perceived or actual failure, those who are accepting and kind to themselves are considerably more likely to “get back on the horse” and continue.
  • Assume more responsibility. Contrary to popular belief, self-compassion does not absolve one of responsibility for a problem; on the contrary, it aids one in being able to examine their part in the problem-solving process more realistically.
  •  Those who are more kind to themselves won’t break if they get criticism from others. This is because persons who engage in self-compassion are aware of their intrinsic worth and capacity for healing, even in the face of unfavourable feedback.

Self-compassion and self-esteem are not the same thing, although those who lack self-compassion may also lack self-esteem. Both qualities are crucial to have, but more and more academics are claiming that having too much self-esteem can be just as bad for mental health as having too little. Self-esteem-boosting lessons, particularly those given to children, may lay more focus on promoting good sentiments and the idea that one is unique than on developing one’s own skill in a particular field. High self-esteem may promote the growth of a skewed self-perception and make it challenging to correct any shortcomings. Self-worth tends to grow and is no longer a consistent evaluation point when self-compassion rather than self-esteem is the emphasis of development.

Self-compassion, in contrast to self-esteem, often leads to growth and personal development in a way that neither self-esteem nor societal comparisons or one’s perception of one’s level of achievement do. Furthermore, while self-compassion may provide a stronger sense of belonging, high self-esteem frequently contributes to or exacerbates loneliness. The significance of self-compassion is becoming a growing area of emphasis for therapists. According to research, having a high level of self-compassion may help one recover from posttraumatic stress disorder because it may make it easier to confront the distressing memories and thoughts that frequently follow a traumatic experience.

Although studies have shown that self-compassion is frequently a preventative factor in the development of caregiver burnout, compassion fatigue or caregiver burnout can also result from providing extensive care to others. Those who have as much compassion for themselves as for others are typically able to maintain physical and mental well-being, generally with the help of an essential self-care routine. Several therapy approaches emphasise the growth of self-compassion. For instance, cognitive-behavioral therapists might assist clients in therapy with reframing unkind thoughts, whereas psychoanalytic therapists might look for early childhood issues that may have contributed to a lack of self-compassion and assist clients in therapy with resolving those problems and developing compassion for themselves.


Self-compassion seeks a balance between improving oneself and accepting oneself. Self-compassion entails seeing your experience in a gentle but realistic way, as opposed to being hard on yourself for making a mistake or throwing a pity party when you face difficulty.

Recognize your shared humanity by realising that failure and pain are universal experiences.

Kindness to oneself

You acknowledge that everyone is flawed and that everyone has an imperfect life when you practise self-kindness. And when things go wrong, you are gentle to yourself rather than judgmental.

It’s simple to be hard on oneself; we do it a lot more often than we know. But what if a better option existed?  Self-compassion is a skill that we can develop through forgiving ourselves, accepting our apparent imperfections, and being kind to ourselves. While making it a habit that sticks is frequently much difficult than it seems, we can learn the proper methods.

Be kind to yourself like you would a friend.

Consider how you would treat people you care about as a good place to start. Therefore, even while we can’t always make other people’s grief go away, we can acknowledge it exists and offer assistance to enable them to go through it and develop. With regard to:

  1. Permit yourself to make errors. Self-kindness and general humanity draw on two distinct but connected concepts: “We’re human. However, if everyone else is, it’s alright since We can let ourselves off the hook when we might do the same for others by not taking our ideas, feelings, and behaviours to be who we are. You probably won’t automatically conclude a friend is a nasty person if they are unresponsive to your phone call because they are being lazy.
  • Treat yourself the same way you treat others. This advice, which is closely related to the last one, is about having compassion and understanding for yourself. You might give a friend a physical pat on the back or hold their hand if you notice that they are feeling down, hurt, or upset. According to Neff, these are techniques for activating our natural “caregiving system” and releasing oxytocin, which has advantageous cardiovascular consequences . Even if we are first resistant, these actions, combined with gentle, forgiving words (like calling oneself “darling” or “sweetheart”), can help us sense self-kindness. Obviously, if it feels too strange, try to restrain yourself from using too many cutesy phrases.
  • Other methods involve increasing our level of self-awareness and engaging our inner dialogue. Being conscious of our internal narratives is a good place to start for altering our self-talk as opposed to “beating ourselves up for beating ourselves up.”
  • Self-compassion is a wonderful quality that anyone may develop. Anyone can practise self-compassion and gradually increase it. For certain people, however, such as those who have gone through trauma that results in a harsh inner critic, it might be more difficult.

It’s okay if you’re still unconvinced, whether it’s because you don’t think practising self-compassion would help you become a better person or because you don’t think you can access it. You can embrace the mindset of an experimenter rather than attempting to compel yourself to accept it rationally.

Try some self-compassion when you’re upset and watch what occurs, Germer advises. He is ready to wager that if you give it a try, even in little doses, the outcomes will start to persuade you that it is a more effective strategy than punishing yourself.

To be compassionate toward others, start by being compassionate toward and showing loving kindness to oneself. Try to remain with your discomfort or dissatisfaction rather than pushing it away, and let it help to calm your emotions. You could have a tendency to project warmth and empathy toward people while you are experiencing sympathy for them. Self-compassion entails acting similarly toward oneself. Be kind to yourself when things don’t go according to plan. Be comforting, give yourself a hug, and smile at yourself in the mirror.

Be aware of any challenging feelings that surface. Recognize your human limitations and provide yourself forgiveness. Try to think of something you could do differently the next time. Be appreciative of the opportunity you first had and your perseverance in trying again.

Accept yourself, at last. You are not perfect. And you undoubtedly could have performed better, too. However, it’s likely that you did great. And most of the time, that’s plenty.

Please let us know your thoughts on this post and how you plan to practise more self-compassion in your life. Please spend a moment adding your story to the discussion below. Perhaps it will encourage others to begin their own journeys of self-love and fulfilment.

CBT Free Worksheet

Enroll in our Accredited CBT Therapy for Self Compassion Online Course

Download Free worksheet of this article

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.