4 Books for Fostering Self-Compassion
What if I were to tell you that self-compassion could make you a healthier person, both mentally and even physically? That’s what the research is showing, linking self-compassion to better health outcomes, lower anxiety and depression, and can even have a positive effect on chronic illness. But what is self-compassion?
Researcher and author Dr. Kristin Neff is one of the foremost faces leading the way in the area of self-compassion. She defines this practice as three elements:
Self-Kindness: Rather than judgement for our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, we practice gentleness and understanding with ourselves.
Recognition for our common humanity: We don’t need to be alone in our pain. We recognize that suffering is a human-kind experience and connects us.
Mindfulness: (I love how she says this…) “We hold our experience in balanced awareness, rather than ignoring our pain or exaggerating it.”
So why practice self-compassion? When we have this posture towards ourselves, it provides us with the space to experience our emotions and feelings without being swept away by them; it allows us to have empathy for the choices we have made; and it gives us the opportunity to unite with others who have experienced pain and suffering in their lives as well. Self-compassion makes for greater leaders, better relationships, more effective parenting, and an increase in overall health.
If you’re anything like me, when I began learning about this practice, I wanted to know more, to learn more. So I’ve rounded up four amazing books for learning more about the art and practice of self-compassion.
Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, by Kristin Neff >> Of course, the first recommendation would be by Dr. Neff herself. This book lays out in more detail the concepts of self-compassion as well as real advice on how to begin this practice in your own life.
The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook: A Proven Way to Accept Yourself, Build Inner Strength, and Thrive, by Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer >> If you’re looking for a more hands on learning experience, this workbook walks you step-by-step through a self-compassion practice based on Dr. Neff’s Mindful Self-Compassion program.
The Gift of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, by Brene Brown >> Another researcher and author, Brene Brown has done extensive research on the topics of shame and vulnerability. In her wonderfully warm way, Brene invites us to explore how our shame keeps us from showing up in our lives, both for ourselves and our most meaningful relationships.
The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living, by Russ Harris >> Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a method of counseling that helps individuals to be open to the experience of life (pain included) in order to move with intention towards the things we value most. In this book, the author breaks down how we get caught in chasing happiness in ways that do not serve us.
Reading books on the topic can be a helpful and effective way to gain knowledge on how to begin practicing self-compassion with yourself. Sometimes, we find that in exploring how we show up for ourselves, we find areas of pain and unmet needs that may need to be worked through towards healing. If you find that you’d like to explore this area further, contact one of our therapists to learn more about working with us.
Tell us, do you practice self-compassion? What are your favorite resources and places to find encouragement?
Erin is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor Associate passionate about empowering women to create vibrant lives full of joy, helping them make peace with their story, and coming alongside couples to overcome patterns and build relationships they’ve always wanted. Erin enjoys exploring the PNW with her husband and two kids, finding the best foodie spots, or reading a good book. You can find her speaking about self-compassion, yoga, and more counseling related topics on Instagram; to find out how you can work with Erin click here.