Self-Compassion Break

When you hear "self-compassion" what comes to mind? Does it sound selfish or self-absorbed? Or does it sound inviting or nourishing? Self-compassion author and researcher Kristin Neff suggests that self-compassion may have more impact on our well-being than efforts to improve our self-esteem.


With self-compassion, we give ourselves the same kindness and care we'd give to a good friend. Self-compassion author and researcher Kristin Neff offers the following brief "Self-Compassion Break" exercise: 

For reflection alone or together: 

How was this exercise for you?

Next week: Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team Part 5

Here is a written version of the self-compassion exercise for your continued use: 

1. This is a moment of suffering

That’s mindfulness. Other options include:

  • This hurts.
  • Ouch.
  • This is stress.

2. Suffering is a part of life

That’s common humanity. Other options include:

  • Other people feel this way.
  • I’m not alone.
  • We all struggle in our lives.

Now, put your hands over your heart, feel the warmth of your hands and the gentle touch of your hands on your chest. Or adopt the soothing touch you discovered felt right for you.

Say to yourself:

3. May I be kind to myself

You can also ask yourself, “What do I need to hear right now to express kindness to myself?” Is there a phrase that speaks to you in your particular situation, such as:

  • May I give myself the compassion that I need
  • May I learn to accept myself as I am
  • May I forgive myself
  • May I be strong.
  • May I be patient

This practice can be used any time of day or night, and will help you remember to evoke the three aspects of self-compassion when you need it most.

Supportive Care Coalition