self love

Self-Compassion in a Nutshell

by Susanne North


Self-Compassion is defined as ‘being kind to yourself in the midst of suffering.

It involves treating yourself the way you would treat a friend who is having a hard time. It is a practice that helps us to learn to be a good friend to ourselves when we need it most. Typically, we are very harsh, highly critical and judgmental with ourselves. We often treat ourselves like an enemy rather than an inner ally.  There are three core elements that we bring to bear when we are in pain:

Self-kindness: Instead of beating ourselves up, put a supportive arm around yourself. Care for yourself as you would care for others. Instead of berating ourselves for being inadequate, we offer ourselves warmth, kindness and acceptance. 

Common humanity: Recognising that all human beings are flawed works-in-progress, that everyone fails, makes mistakes and experiences hardship in life. Pain is part of our shared human experience. We are not alone. Others experience the same challenges. 

Mindfulness: To be self-compassionate, we need to bring awareness to our present experience. It allows us to face the truth of our experience, even when it is painful. Mindfulness allows us to be with the pain and respond with care and kindness. It also prevents us from becoming too caught up in our negative thoughts and ruminations. Often we do not acknowledge the pain we are in. We need the presence of mind to respond in a new way. 

Self Compassion Strategies – Intentional Self Care – Developing Love & Kindness to self

In times of suffering, the most important question to ask yourself is: “What do I need right now?”

A sense of belonging, love, protection, validation, acceptance, connection, being heard? 

The Soften Soothe Allow Method developed by Dr Kristin Neff (leading Researcher of Self-Compassion) is a powerful and effective way to develop self-compassion:


      • Hand over your heart or elsewhere. Feel your body breathe.
      • Locate. Where do we feel the difficult emotion? 
      • Put your hand on this space with warmth and kindness as if it was a child.
      • Just a gentle touch.
      • Take a moment and allow your heart to open gently, to become receptive – like a flower opening in the warm sun. 
      • Imagine warmth and kindness flowing through your hand into your body. 
      • We are not trying to change the unpleasant feeling. We are just accepting it for what is. 
      • Allow yourself to be – and hold the sensation in a tender way.


        • Imagine yourself as a little child. 

      Question 1: What do I truly need?

        • To do this, try to sense what the wounded, frightened or hurting place inside you most needs, and then offer some gesture of active care that might address this need. Does it need a message of reassurance? Of forgiveness? Of companionship?  Of love? 
        • Experiment and see which intentional gesture of kindness most helps to comfort, soften or open your heart. 

      Question 2: What do I need to hear? 

          • Are there some comforting words that you might want to hear?
          • What arises for you? It might be the mental whisper, I’m here with you. I’m sorry, and I love you. I love you, and I’m listening. It’s not your fault.

        Question 3: What do I need to hear from others?

            • What words do I long to hear because, as a person?
            • What words would you like to have whispered in your ear? What comes up for you?

            Use your imagination.

              • A word/phrase that soothes you.
              • You can reframe your words. 
              • I love you becomes – “May I love myself just as I am”. “May I be kind to myself.” “May I be at peace.” “May I forgive myself.”
              • Find the right words that work for you. It is like a poetic and soulful journey. 

            When it feels too difficult to offer yourself love, bring to mind a special and trusted family member, friend, pet, a special place or a greater spiritual being.  Imagine being held by this person and imagine that being’s love and wisdom flowing into you. 


            Imagine a friend who is struggling. 

            What would you say to a friend? Or a child?

            Are there any phrases you may wish to use

            Evoke goodwill. Bring a warm and kind attitude to it.

            “May I be healthy. May I feel loved. May I experience love.” 

            Trust in your goodness. 

            In addition to a whispered message of care, many people find healing by gently placing a hand on the heart or cheek; or by envisioning being bathed in or embraced by warm, radiant light.


                • Make room for the discomfort. 
                • There is no need to make it go away or fix it. 
                • Allow yourself to be just as you are. 
                • Connect to humanity. 

              Use these practices, the words/mantras/phrases that speak to you personally throughout your day or when difficulties arise.

              Feel them. How do they take up your space? 

              Play around with them. Be vulnerable, open. Fill your being.

              Further Resources:

                To check your level of self-compassion:To find out more about the research/self-compassion exercises/meditations by pioneer Dr Kristin Neff 

                Self-Compassion Homepage

                Dr Gary Leong – Busting out of obesity – forming new habits at home


                Eating at home as a family should be an enjoyable experience. Unfortunately, this is not always the case for most families. In reality, many parents dread the evening mealtime, finding it a time filled with stress, arguments and tension. So, don’t worry, you are not alone.

                With this in mind, I have developed simple methods that promise to transform your family’s mealtime. These three simple steps together will help your family develop positive habits around food and eating at home.

                Here are three ways you can encourage your family to eat together more.

                Grow your own food

                It can be as simple as starting a veggie patch at home, or even just planting some seeds in pots. Explore growing some fun foods such as onions, carrots, and celery by growing them from end cuts. To make things fun and interesting for the kids, you can plant veggies that your family might not usually eat, your children’s favourite veggies and ones that are a little unique or vibrantly coloured like purple carrots.

                Come to the table ready to talk

                Whether it’s the topic of the day or reporting on your highlights or low-points of the day, you can discuss them as a family. This is a great way to discover new interests, identify issues, solve smaller problems, and work out plans for the weekend. Celebrate wins, and identify early any upcoming challenges by establishing a regular habit of sharing over a meal.

                This also helps everyone be ready for eating out in restaurants, or when you are visiting other families. The additional bonus of this is that you all learn to have respectful and enjoyable conversations across generational boundaries.

                When reminiscing about life as a child or teenager, many people fondly remember family meal times as the best part of the day, as it was the time when they had their parents’ attention.

                That’s why it’s important to set boundaries around mealtimes. Mealtimes should mean manners and a device-free environment.

                Encourage help with the meal preparation

                From writing the weekly shopping list and visiting the supermarket, to actually cooking the meal, involve the whole family in the preparation process. This includes taking turns to prepare parts of or even the entire meal. Whoever is in charge should be encouraged to take ownership of what is being cooked when it is their turn.

                Alternatively, make mealtime a learning experience. From learning how to peel potatoes, to preparing a salad, right up to making an omelette and setting the table properly, children love to be involved, stimulated and learning.