What is Self-Compassion?

What is Self-Compassion? 1

Written by  Jac Tichbon
Psychologist & Clinical Psychology Registrar

Self-compassion involves engaging in kindness directed towards yourself when experiencing distress.

When we practice self-compassion can activate the soothe/care response, responsible for reducing stress and increasing feelings of safety and security.

Self-compassion helps to soothe the threat response, responsible for the fight or flight response. When this stress response is triggered by a threat to our self-concept, we can respond negatively to ourselves through self-­criticism.

Self-compassion is broken down into three components:

  1. Self-kindness
  2. Common humanity
  3. Mindfulness


Self-kindness is the tendency to be supportive, warm, and understanding towards ourselves when noticing personal suffering instead of being self-critical or ignoring our pain. The inner conversation is soothing and calming rather than harsh and judgemental.

Common humanity

Common humanity involves recognising that no one is perfect. Everyone suffers and everyone has their own flaws. Suffering is often accompanied by a sense of isolation, however this is part of a shared human experience. When we think about suffering as a shared experience we can feel more connected to others.


Mindfulness involves being aware of our present moment experience. We have to notice suffering without judgment first to then feel compassion for it.


Self-compassion based therapy has recently become more popular as it demonstrates effectiveness in treating a range of psychological disorders and may help soothe ruminative self-critical thinking in both young people and adults.

Self-compassion based concepts can also be a useful adjunct to more well-known therapy styles such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. With the help of a psychologist, these concepts can be applied to assist you or a loved one through a difficult time.