Self-Compassion: Choosing the Inner-Friend Over the Inner-Critic

In this video, Dr. Kristin Neff leads a guided self-compassion practice for those experiencing strain or burnout from caring for others. The technique begins with validating your own difficulty, as well as the pain and struggle of those you are caring for. Next, a quality of compassion is generated for all involved. And, finally, she closes by prompting you to reflect on what sort of help you can realistically provide.

This instruction from Dr. Kristin Neff PhD about the practice of self-compassion is also a great description for what self compassion is—an inherent quality. That is to say, self compassion is not something outside that we need to bring in, not a book we need to read, but something we already have, already are—as so many of our friends, colleagues, and even strangers can attest to. We know what it means to be a friend. 

Dr. Neff is quick to point out, this is different from self care, “which happens off the job at home when we have time.” While we all agree salt baths are great, it’s not always time for that. “Self-compassion,” Neff says, “is in the moment, like an on the job oxygen mask.” 

Like Jon Kabat-Zinn points out about mindfulness in this recent blog post, it doesn’t take more time to do this practice. Rather, it’s just a different way of doing what we already do, with more kindness, warmth, and a willingness to smile. 

Choosing the friend over the inner-critic “makes care go both ways,” Dr. Neff says—which healthcare professionals, more than any of us, deserve. 

David Prichard is the Head of Partnerships and Community Enrichment for The Awake Network. A new father, reformed spendthrift, and aspiring homesteader, David is also a meditation instructor who has been practicing for close to a decade. Most dear to him is the belief that together we are creating societies of goodness and cultures of care and delight––and that’s exactly what David is accomplishing as The Awake Network’s relationship builder.