Iris Mini: Self-Compassion

“Having compassion starts and ends with having compassion for all those unwanted parts of ourselves. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy”. - Pema Chodron

Self-compassion is giving ourselves the same kindness and care that we’d give to a good friend. It involves:

  • Caring for yourself when facing difficulty, failure, or noticing something you don’t like about yourself

  • Acknowledging that “this is really hard right now”

  • Considering how to offer yourself care and comfort

Self-compassion honors and accepts our humanity – that we all make mistakes, experience loss, fall short of ideals, and face uncertainty. Research has found self-compassion to be a protective factor that fosters emotional resilience, which can be particularly helpful when facing the challenges of a cancer diagnosis.

Core elements of self-compassion:

  • Self-kindness: Being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or berating ourselves with self-criticism.

    • Example: “This treatment feels so difficult right now, and my body is experiencing a lot.”

  • Connected with others: To be human is to be vulnerable and imperfect. Self-compassion recognizes that suffering and personal inadequacy are part of the shared human experience – something that we all go through rather than being something that happens to “me” alone.

    • Example: “I am feeling isolated, but I’m not alone. Others have felt this way too.”

  • Mindfulness: Taking a balanced, curious approach to our negative emotions so that feelings are neither ignored nor overstated. This involves observing emotions and thoughts with openness so that they are held in mindful awareness, rather than “over-identifying” with thoughts or feelings.

    • Example: "I’m noticing my worry around my upcoming scans – I am not my worry.”


Self-Compassion Books, Videos & Audio Courses, including The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook (Kristin Neff, PhD)

Self-Compassion Guided Practices and Exercises (Kristin Neff, PhD)

*Self-Compassion Kristin Neff

**Adapted from: The Three Elements of Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff