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benefits of self compassion Archives - Suzanne Wallach

The Importance of Self-Compassion in Mental Health


Mental health refers to emotional, cognitive, and behavioral well-being. The World Health Organization (WHO) explains mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” Wellness is an active and dynamic process of change and growth to reach one’s fullest potential. According to The National Wellness Institute, wellness is a “process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.” There are eight dimensions of wellness, and devoting time to each of these dimensions in one’s daily life, can improve one’s mental health and emotional well-being.

What Is Self-Compassion?

Self-compassion is defined as “compassion directed inward, relating to oneself as the object of care and concern when faced with the experience of suffering.” Kristin Neff, Ph.D., one of the leading researchers in this field, explains that self-compassion is comprised of the following three central components:

  1. Self-kindness versus self-judgment: being kind and understanding toward oneself rather than being self-critical.
  2. Common humanity versus isolation: Seeing one’s fallibility as part of the larger human condition and experience rather than as isolating.
  3. Mindfulness versus overidentification: holding one’s painful thoughts and feelings in mindful awareness rather than avoiding them or overidentifying with them.

When these interrelated elements combine and mutually interact, we can cultivate a self-compassionate frame of mind when encountering personal mistakes, failure, perceived inadequacies, and/ or various experiences of life difficulty.

Benefits of Self-Compassion

There is an array of benefits to practicing self-compassion. Research indicates that self-compassion is strongly associated with psychological well-being. More specifically, experts assert that “higher levels of self-compassion are linked to increased feelings of happiness, optimism, curiosity, and connectedness, as well as decreased anxiety, depression, rumination, and fear of failure.” A 2021 paper in the Journal of Positive Psychology, asserts that self-compassion induces a feeling of security and calmness as it produces a chemical response by activating the parasympathetic system, which triggers the release of oxytocin (commonly known as the “love hormone”). This creates a sense of emotional safety, even in the face of uncertainty, which in turn lowers stress and stress-related behaviors. According to Michigan State University, “practicing self-compassion helps us to accept our own humanness and imperfections with kindness and increases people’s motivation to learn, to change for the better and to avoid repeating past mistakes.” Self-compassion research reveals that individuals who practice self-compassion are far less likely to suffer from mental health conditions and are more resilient. Empirical literature further indicates that self-compassion appears to reduce psychopathology through lessened automatic and negative thinking, reduced avoidance of negative emotions, decreased entanglement with negative emotions, and greater emotion regulation skills, all of which lead to greater life satisfaction and enhanced mental health. 

Treatment In Calabasas

Calabasas is a city in California. It is a well-known suburb of Los Angeles, located west of the San Fernando Valley and north of the Santa Monica Mountains. Over the past decade, the city of Calabasas has grown in its reputation for luxury as well as for privacy which makes it a hidden gem for residential living for society’s elite, and one of the most desirable destinations in Los Angeles County. It is also home to a plethora of highly qualified mental health clinicians providing an array of therapeutic services and treatment options. 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

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