The Benefits of Self-Compassion

The Benefits of Self-Compassion

Published on Thursday, March 09, 2023 by Deanna Salles-Freeman

I use the phrase “space and grace”- maybe I heard it somewhere. 

I just remember being in a difficult place, taking a deep breath, and saying this to myself. It was the first time I paused in turmoil and showed myself some self-compassion. 

Truth is, we tend to be harder on ourselves than anyone else.

Unless we literally do nothing at all, we will fail. We will have difficult times. We will be triggered. We will make mistakes. We are human. We won’t get it right all the time. Adjusting to new ways of eating and caring for yourself with GERD or IBS can be challenging. 

Instead of harshly criticizing yourself, why not exercise some self-compassion?

What is Self-Compassion?

According to author Brené Brown in the book Atlas of the Heart- “Compassion is the daily practice of recognizing and accepting our shared humanity so that we treat ourselves and others with loving-kindness, and we take action in the face of suffering.” Notice this definition includes ourselves. Can you look at this definition and see where you’ve extended compassion to others? 

Self-compassion is the practice of treating ourselves with that same understanding and loving-kindness. There is a level of acceptance that is necessary for compassion. We are all made of strength and struggle. It's learning how to feel the discomfort, especially our own. Accepting things as they are and choosing actions that put that negative inner critic in check. 

“Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others.”

~ Pema Chödrön, The Places That Scare You

Health Benefits

It may take some work to get into the practice of self-compassion, but the benefits make it worth the investment. Having self-compassion has been shown to lower the stress hormone cortisol, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease

Self-compassion can also improve mental health, motivation, and relationships. When we show ourselves compassion, it takes a level of self-awareness to see why we need to extend that compassion. Awareness is always the beginning of healing, change, and growth.

Ways to Practice Self Compassion

How can you put self-compassion into practice in your daily life? Here are a few strategies you can try. Test them out and keep the ones that work. We are all bio-individuals, so be sure to explore.

1. Get rid of the A.N.T.s

Dr. Amen refers to A.N.T.s, which are our automatic negative thoughts. These happen all the time for various reasons. Mostly, our brain isn’t looking to make us happy, its chief concern is keeping us safe, and surviving. It will take some work but begin to notice when you are critical of yourself. Pause. Notice the criticism. Now reframe it to something more positive.

2. Be kind to yourself

Kindness is a good step toward loving yourself. Examine how you treat yourself and ask, would I treat my loved one like this? If the answer is a big NO, then shift the way you treat yourself.

3. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is all about being present in the moment, not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Be aware of your emotions and thoughts, then respond with compassion.

4. Develop an attitude of gratitude

Gratitude is an appreciation for what you have, here and now. Focusing on this creates a more positive outlook. That positivity will allow you to show yourself more compassion.

5. Tap into support

You are not alone. Community is a great way to recognize that there are others with similar struggles. Seek out family, friends, or a professional. Even this Foodguides community can help you learn more compassion. 


Self-compassion may not come naturally to you, but you are worth the investment. It is a powerful practice that can impact all areas of your life and well-being. If you want greater motivation, self-awareness, resilience, and gratitude, then start by being kind to yourself. Test out the strategies here by incorporating them into your daily routines and increasing your self-compassion.

I see you, and YOU are beautiful!

  1. Breines, J. G., & Chen, S. (2012). Self-Compassion Increases Self-Improvement Motivation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38(9), 1133–1143. 
  2. Brown, B. (2021). Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience (p. 118). Random House LLC.
  3. Homan, K. J., & Sirois, F. M. (2017). Self-compassion and physical health: Exploring the roles of perceived stress and health-promoting behaviors. Health Psychology Open, 4(2), 205510291772954. 
  4. Pires, F. B. C., Lacerda, S. S., Balardin, J. B., Portes, B., Tobo, P. R., Barrichello, C. R. C., Amaro, E., & Kozasa, E. H. (2018). Self-compassion is associated with less stress and depression and greater attention and brain response to affective stimuli in women managers. BMC Women’s Health, 18(1). 

Leave a comment on this article: