Kristin Neff is currently an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. She is a pioneer in the field of self-compassion research, conducting the first empirical studies on self-compassion nearly twenty years ago. She has been recognized as one of the most influential researchers in psychology worldwide. She is author of the bestselling book Self-Compassion. Along with her colleague Chris Germer, she developed the Mindful Self-Compassion program, taught internationally, and co-wrote The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook. Her newest book is Fierce Self-Compassion: How Women Can Harness Kindness to Speak Up, Claim Their Power, and Thrive.
DEFINITION OF SELF COMPASSION
Having compassion for oneself is really no different than having compassion for others. Think about what the experience of compassion feels like. First, to have compassion for others you must notice that they are suffering. If you ignore that homeless person on the street, you can’t feel compassion for how difficult his or her experience is. Second, compassion involves feeling moved by others’ suffering so that your heart responds to their pain (the word compassion literally means to “suffer with”). When this occurs, you feel warmth, caring, and the desire to help the suffering person in some way. Having compassion also means that you offer understanding and kindness to others when they fail or make mistakes, rather than judging them harshly. Finally, when you feel compassion for another (rather than mere pity), it means that you realize that suffering, failure, and imperfection is part of the shared human experience. “There but for fortune go I.”
Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of just ignoring your pain with a “stiff upper lip” mentality, you stop to tell yourself “this is really difficult right now,” how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?
Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?
You may try to change in ways that allow you to be more healthy and happy, but this is done because you care about yourself, not because you are worthless or unacceptable as you are. Perhaps most importantly, having compassion for yourself means that you honor and accept your humanness. Things will not always go the way you want them to. You will encounter frustrations, losses will occur, you will make mistakes, bump up against your limitations, fall short of your ideals. This is the human condition, a reality shared by all of us. The more you open your heart to this reality instead of constantly fighting against it, the more you will be able to feel compassion for yourself and all your fellow humans in the experience of life.
ACCOLADES AND AWARDS
Named as one of the world’s most influential researchers by Clairviate, 2021
BOOKS AND PUBLICATIONS
The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook
Teaching the Mindful Self-Compassion Program
- Self-Compassion Is An Essential Tool To Excel In Your Career, Expert Says, Forbes Article about Self-Compassion in the Workplace
- Day 10: Give Yourself A Break!, New York Times wellness challenge featured the Self-Compassion Break
- Why Self-Compassion – Not Self-Esteem – Leads To Success, BBC Interview about Self-Compassion
FOUNDATIONS OR CHARITIES
The Center for Mindful Compassion
PAST APPEARANCE AT RESILIENCY 2021
SOCIAL MEDIA CONTACTS