Moving Towards Self-Compassion in 2023

By Ashley Barnes


What is self-compassion?

In understanding compassion, it is first important to understand what compassion means. “Compassion involves feeling another person’s pain and wanting to take steps to help relieve their suffering” (Verywell Mind, 2021). The word ‘compassion’ is derived from Latin and means “to suffer together.” It is markedly different from empathy in that it takes a step further by taking action on the shared understanding of a person’s pain and suffering.

Put simply, “Self-compassion is…the process of turning compassion inward.” (Neff, 2022). This practice is often easier said than done, as many of us have learned through experience or observing others that treating ourselves harshly is the only way to move forward. 

From a self-compassion lens, we instead would provide ourselves kindness and understanding when we “fail, make mistakes or feel inadequate. We give ourselves support and encouragement rather than being cold and judgmental when challenges and difficulty arise in our lives. Research indicates that self-compassion is one of the most powerful sources of coping and resilience we have available to us, radically improving our mental and physical wellbeing. It motivates us to make changes and reach our goals not because we’re inadequate, but because we care and want to be happy” (Neff, 2022). 

Why is self-compassion important?

Compassion can help us relate with others, improve relationships, and progress while fostering well-being and emotional intelligence.

Compassion has been researched to have positive effects on mood. When someone is compassionate towards us, we can feel supported through challenging times. Directing compassion to others can be just as rewarding: research shows that giving money to others in need produces a greater sense of happiness than spending it on ourselves (Dunn et al., 2014). 

Putting it into practice.

There are many ways to show compassion for others, some of which are listed below:

  • Practice patience.
  • Apologize when you have made a mistake.
  • Forgive others for making mistakes.
  • Listen carefully without judgment.
  • Offer your help to someone with a task.
  • Celebrate someone’s wins with them.
  • Speak with kindness.

There are also many ways to show compassion for ourselves:

  • Be patient with yourself.
  • Forgive yourself for making a mistake.
  • Celebrate your wins.
  • Speak to yourself kindly.
  • Encourage yourself when you are at a low point.
  • Do a random act of kindness (for yourself).

More ways to practice self-compassion.

Your happiness, mental health, and wellbeing matter too. Engaging in self-care is one sure way to show kindness to yourself. This could look like prioritizing exercise, sleep, eating healthy food, or participating in an activity that makes you feel rejuvenated, such as taking a bath. It could be making time to do something that brings you joy such as watching a comedic movie, painting,  or listening to your favorite song. It could look like going to the dentist, optometrist, or doctor for routine check-ups. 

Self-care can also look like reaching out to a loved one for support or attending to your mental health concerns by seeking help from a therapist or psychiatristIf you seek support from a mental health professional, please contact us at the Mental Health Center for sensitive, attentive care.




Dunn E.W., Aknin L.B., & Norton M.I. (2014). Prosocial spending and happiness: using money to benefit others pays off. Curr Dir Psychol Sci. 2014;23(1):41-47. doi:10.1177/0963721413512503)

Neff, Kristin (2022). Compassion. Self-Compassion – Dr. Kristin Neff. Retrieved December 15, 2022, from 

Verywell Mind. (2021). What is compassion? Verywell Mind. Retrieved December 15, 2022, from