How to Practice Self-Compassion: One Powerful Intervention

Self-Compassion: An Evidence-Based Solution

If the term “self-compassion” sounds a little hokey or new-age to you, think again. The research — and there’s lots of it — shows that self-compassion can mean a world of difference for your well-being and productivity. I’ll share why, and I’ll show you a simple intervention to leverage your self-compassion.

How Self-Compassion Works

I’ve written previously about how simple self-compassion interventions are shown to decrease the odds of depression, increase general happiness, help smokers quit, dramatically boost the success rate of obese dieters, and more.

But how?

Self-Compassion-HeartFirst of all, it aligns with our evolutionary wiring: Kelly McGonigal, a top self-compassion researcher, notes that being compassionate toward others is part of human nature — you see a friend or child mess up, and you give an encouraging word.

And when you administer compassion to someone in need, you support them not only at the emotional level, but at the neurochemical level — helping restore their base levels of key neurotransmitters responsible for mood and stress.

And that benefit can accrue to you when you administer a dose of self-compassion. That’s why those with more self-compassion are less likely to experience anxiety, depression, self-criticism and unhealthy perfectionism. They are happier, more optimistic and less prone to anger.

Secondly, self-compassion sets you on a stronger psychological footing, which does your productivity good: self-compassion correlates with less procrastination; the ability to recover from setbacks; and to be more proactive.

As McGonigal sums it up, self-compassion puts us “in an optimal mindstate to do our best.” TWEET THIS

Self-Compassion Helps Productivity

Learn how to practice self-compassion and you’ll thank yourself with a big hug.

The Foundations of Self-Compassion

Dr. Kristin Neff defines self-compassion as “extending compassion to the self for one’s failings, inadequacies and experiences of suffering.”

In more practical terms, it’s grounded in three things:

ONE. Being kind to yourself. It’s like the golden rule with a twist: Treating yourself as you would treat others.

TWO. Remembering that EVERY SINGLE member of humanity has the same foibles, faults and failures as you. That’s right – you ain’t so special. Like, 7.4 billion people worth of you-ain’t-so-special. (OK, you are kinda special — but you know what I mean.)

THREE. Mindfulness – just bringing awareness to the bad feelings and emotions arising from whatever you’re judging yourself about. Letting yourself experience, and NOT ignoring, those feelings.

The more you can make these foundations of self-compassion into habitual mindsets, the less you’ll burn time, energy and spirit on BS. And the more proactive and powerfully ready to crush whatever’s in your way.

But to really benefit from the power of self-compassion, I urge you to try the following “intervention”…

A Simple Self-Compassion Intervention

There are many self-compassion interventions you can do to boost your mood, confidence, productivity and more. My favorite is based on that “golden rule with a twist: How do you treat a friend who’s down?

Self-Compassion-Hug-HeartTake a few minutes to write down the answers to these questions…

How do you typically comfort a friend who’s really down on herself or struggling with something?

What do you do, what do you say and what’s the tone in which you say it?

Seriously — write those down!  Next, write the answers to these:

How do you typically respond to yourself when you’re feeling really down or struggling with something?

What do you do, what do you say, and how do you say it?

Then, look at the differences between these two sets of answers. If you’re honest, there will be a difference.

And finally — and this is the biggie — ask yourself why you treat yourself differently than you’d treat a friend. (Hint: You likely find ways to blame yourself when things don’t go well…then you get down on yourself a little…or a lot.)

If you’ve done this honestly and completely, this exercise raises your awareness of how you reflexively help a friend in need – so that you can more automatically help yourself in need — with the same compassion.

A Closing Thought

To paraphrase Dr. McGonigal: Which self do you want to be tomorrow: the one that screws up, doesn’t meet your high expectations and doesn’t deserve compassion? Or the self that is your friend, who’s imperfect but ultimately wants to, and will do, the right thing?

Be the friend. And remember, whatever’s in your way is yours to crush!


Hey — Want to Learn More Evidence-Based Self-Compassion Interventions?

I dedicated an episode of Crusher™TV to The Power of Self-Compassion, and below is the preview of that episode. Click the image to check it out.

If you like the Preview, you’ll get a lot out of watching that entire episode of Crusher™TV where I dig deeper into this topic and provide those additional interventions. (You can become a member for a buck and cancel any time you like.) It’s Episode 57, and you can preview that episode by clicking the image below:

Power of Self-Compassion Play

Each Crusher™TV Episode is a well-researched “mini-masterclass” of evidence-based solutions on a specific productivity topic.

Description: You think self-compassion is a bunch of “woo-woo” silliness? I’ve seen the research. It’s more like, “Holy cannoli, that’s POWERFUL STUFF!” It is – in terms of your well-being and your productivity. I’ll show you how, and how to leverage it.



Alan P Brown CrusherTVAlan P. Brown, an internationally recognized Productivity Coach, TEDx Speaker and #1 Best Selling Author of Zen and the Art of Productivity: 27 Easy Ways to Have More Time, Earn More Money and Live Happier is the host of Crusher™TV, where he and his Guest Experts share simple ways to get more done in less time with less stress. Follow Alan on Twitter and on Facebook.


Susan Lasky

This tendency towards self-critical and ‘unforgiving’ thinking was well summarized by a client in my ADHD group as SCDD – self compassion deficit disorder. Well said, I think. Awareness is the first step in change – great blog!

Alan Brown

Wow — just goes to show, the most powerful language doesn’t come from coaches or “experts” — it comes right out of the mouths of our clients! AB


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