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Book Excerpt [Self-compassion]

I think this excerpt may be helpful to others for its shift in perspective. It's in the book Come As You Are, by Dr. Emily Nagoski, which I may write about further in a future post (after I've finished reading it):


In her book Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind, researcher and educator Kristin Neff describes self-compassion's three key elements:

* Self-kindness is our ability to treat ourselves gently and with caring. On the Self Compassion Scale (SCS), a survey used to assess self-compassion, self-kindness is described with items like "When I'm going through a very hard time, I give myself the caring and tenderness I need." In contrast, its opposite, self-judgment, is assessed with "I'm intolerant and impatient towards those aspects of my personality I don't like."

* Common humanity is viewing our suffering as something that connects us with others, rather than separates us. It's assessed on the SCS with items like "When I feel inadequate in some way, I try to remind myself that feelings of inadequacy are shared by most people." Its opposite, isolation, is assessed with "When I fail at something that's important to me, I tend to feel alone in my failure."

* Mindfulness is being nonjudgmental about whatever is happening in the present moment...Mindfulness is important. On the SCS it's assessed with items like "When something painful happens I try to take a balanced view of the situation." Its opposite is over-identification, as in over-identifying with your own failures and suffering, holding fast to the pain and being unable to let it go. It's assessed with items like "When I'm feeling down I tend to obsess and fixate on everything that's wrong."


So my impression is that what's presented in this book is reasonably well scientifically substantiated. [temporarily setting aside the general and growing concerns about reproducibility in the cognitive and behavioral sciences] Self-Compassion sounds to me like it may fall somewhere in the realm of cognitive behavioral therapy, in a good way. I appreciate this excerpt from Come As You Are for succinctly discussing the point about "common humanity" in particular. I think when I was younger - middle school, high school - I was much, much worse at self-compassion. A lot of things have reshaped my perspective since then, thankfully, but I especially find it helpful to remind myself to step outside of my individual experience and put it into a broader context.


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