Five Part Wellbeing Series! Part 3: Self Compassion

By Jessica Darvell (Psychologist). MPsych(Clin.),GradDipPsych, BCom/BSc.

Welcome to the third instalment of my blog series on wellbeing. So far we have covered implementing daily relaxation and centring as a technique for bringing your attention back to the present moment. This third instalment will discuss being kind to yourself. For some people this concept may seem unusual. It can be a lot easier to be kind and compassionate to those around you rather than to yourself. Many people are very critical of themselves and have very high expectations of themselves. Some people can find it hard to cut themselves some slack and to acknowledge when they need a break from the pressures they have put on themselves.

Dr Kristen Neff describes self-compassion to mean that you treat yourself with care and concern when confronted with your own mistakes, failures and shortcomings. It is about self-kindness and being gentle and understanding to yourself as opposed to being critical and judgmental.

As part of your wellbeing, try this written exercise in self-compassion.

Self-compassion letter

  1. Choose an aspect of yourself that you dislike and criticise (for example it may be related to your appearance, personality, career, relationships, skills etc.)
  2. Write in detail about how this perceived shortfall makes you feel. Write down any stories, thoughts, feelings, and emotions you experience when you think of this perceived shortfall in yourself.
  3. Now imagine a person. This person is supportive, kind, loving and unconditionally accepting of you. This person views you as a whole, not just your shortfalls but also your strengths and opportunities for growth. This person accepts and forgives you just the way you are.
  4. On a new piece of paper, write a letter to yourself from the perspective of this person. What do they say to you? How does this person encourage and support you?
  5. Once you have drafted your letter put it aside for 30 minutes.
  6. After 30 minutes reread your self-compassion letter. Let the words sink in. Notice your feelings of encouragement, support, compassion, and acceptance.
  7. Reread your self-compassion letter whenever you are feeling upset about this aspect of yourself.

Remember, like any skill self-compassion takes practice. Be patient, and try to practice being gentle and kind with yourself. Tune in next week for the fourth part of this wellbeing blog special. Click here to read prior instalments on relaxation or centring.


Often managing emotions on your own can be difficult and seeking professional help is a good idea. Speak with your GP, or contact Jessica to discuss this further.

Some more helpful resources:

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