Fierce and Tender Self-Compassion

vector of hands holding heart plant fierce self-compassion

Getty/Anna Bezrukova

Kristin Neff, PhD, created the scale that psychologists worldwide use to measure self-compassion. Now she reveals the hidden superpower that makes being kind to yourself a primal force for justice.

You’re essentially the mother of self-compassion. The idea that you can turn compassion inward is ancient. But in the scientific literature, no one had defined self-compassion. My contribution is a three-component model that defines self-compassion as mindfulness, common humanity, and kindness. I also created a scale to measure it. That was back in 2003, and since then we have created other ways of researching self-compassion, as well as training protocols, exercises, and practices to teach people how to do it. I think that’s why there’s so much excitement. The last time I checked, there were over 3,200 articles with “self-compassion” in the title, and that not counting the papers that use self-compassion as a measure. How’s your scale holding up? Very well. Of course, when you create a scale, other people try to tear it apart. It’s actually been good because it’s made me be a much better scientist. I’ve had to get better and better. There’s one person whose entire career is devoted to trying to take me down. I guess that’s flattering. You first awakened to self-compassion in a meditation clas …

About the Author

Stephen Kiesling

Stephen Kiesling is a former Olympic rower, co-creator of the Nike Cross Training System, and editor at...

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