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Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  7,911 ratings  ·  570 reviews
From leading psychologist Dr. Kristin Neff comes a step-by-step guide explaining how to be more self-compassionate and achieve your dreams in life

The relentless pursuit of high self-esteem has become a virtual religion—and a tyrannical one at that. Our ultracompetitive culture tells us we need to be constantly above average to feel good about ourselves, but there is a
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Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 19th 2011 by William Morrow
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Average rating 4.15  · 
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 ·  7,911 ratings  ·  570 reviews


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Thomas
I turn 20 in a week, and I could not have read this book at a better time. Having been raised in an abusive household, I always strive to live with kindness, understanding, and compassion in order to break free from my childhood. Kristin Neff's Self-Compassion has taught me many valuable lessons, including what specific behaviors and thoughts comprise compassion, as well as how to apply those principles to myself - one of the hardest things I have had to do in my life. A quote that shows Neff's three tenets of ...more
Caroline
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: psychology
I'm a busy-buzzy kind of woman, and I found this a waffly and protracted read. I think it could have been ten percent the length that it was. This may be in part because I've realised that I am quite a self-accepting person. If instead you are highly self critical, you might find the detail given in book more helpful.

For most people, rather than reading the book, I would recommend this fantastic 12 minute video done on the subject by Neff, it's also an excellent introduction to the sort of grou
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AJW
Dec 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
A good book on a very important topic for me. Self-compassion is learning to love ourselves as we aspire to love those dear to us. It is not loving ourselves as being superior to others (i.e. believing I am better than you and special). I have periods when I hate myself, and most of the time I don't like who I am, so this was a challenging read. I have read a couple of research papers by Kristen Neff so I know this book is written on sound psychological principles. It is not a self-help book wri ...more
Jennifer Louden
Nothing new but a wonderful intro book for someone who has no idea what you mean when you say "Be a little nicer to yourself"

I also like her mantra:

This is a moment of suffering.
Suffering is part of life.
May I be kind to myself in this moment.
May I give myself the compassion I need.

Kristen maintains that recognizing our suffering is the first step in learning self-compassion. We can't just keep going forward, pretending nothing happened. And we don't wa
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Jonathan
Jun 12, 2013 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: frenemies
Recommended to Jonathan by: Lucky I don't remember
Shelves: self-help
It's not often I don't finish a book, but I could not get past the first few chapters even with skimming. The tone of this book was sooooo annoying, i just couldn't take it anymore. The author apparently felt like she needed to dumb down her writing a little too much and all her examples were like of herself or other women who wanted to please their boyfriends or husbands or some crap like that. Barf. I'm sorry, but I just don't really empathize with your multiple marriages and affairs with olde ...more
Catherine
Nov 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
Quite a disappointment. The author is a specialist in the field of self-compassion and makes here an attempt to explain self-compassion to a large audience.

The author must be a great person, but unfortunately her book is not strong.

The exercises are not practical and difficult to apply (perhaps because I don't come from the same culture?). I found them superficial.

The examples often taken from the author's life didn't really interest me. I am already familiar with meditation and mindefulness
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Travis McClain
Mar 14, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Travis by: Carrie
I suppose a lot of those who read this will relate: my therapist lent me this book because I'm reflexively kinda rough on myself. By her own acknowledgment, she hadn't gotten all that far with her personal copy, but thought maybe I would find something in it interesting or helpful.

Nope.

I went into this to make a good faith effort, I really did. Clearly, I need to rewire some things, and I'm open to finding things that can help with that. What I found here were 286 pages o
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Shelley
Mar 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: self-help
There's very useful, Buddhist-derived wisdom here, and some very practical tips for forgiving and nurturing yourself, as well as great exercises to do. In that sense, it was a very worthwhile read and it's been very helpful to me.

I was put off by the author's tone (it's breezy) as well as the frequent referrals to her website and use of her own life to illustrate points. By the end of the book, I sympathized/empathized with her much less than I did at the start.

Additionally, the stu
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Lisa
Oct 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book came to my with a huge pile of other books I picked up at the library recently. ugh. that is how I feel when I take out too many books from the library and feel the pressure building as the days pass by and I don't have time to get to them.

But luckily, I did get to pick up this book and start reading before the time was up. I wasn't really sure what self compassion is or what it would look like. I now understand how important it is to comfort myself when I am feeling bad, no matter wh
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Zoe
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very very important message, one that I need to take to heart. The self critical me still thinks that part of this book seems like sugar-coating for losers who can't do better, but that is more about me than the book. For those who are "hard on ourselves", this book conveys the life-saving message that we must exercise self compassion instead of self criticism, in good times and even more so, in bad times. I am very interested in learning more about the subject and would like to practice self ...more
Elise
Sep 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
If you're looking for a book that's going to give you a pat on the back, tell you that you're awesome, or that you have a right to feel sorry for yourself...this book is not for you. I think part of me was secretly hoping for that self-righteous confidence boost, but what I got was something better: self-compassion. She won't so much tell you that you're "perfect just the way you are", or conversely that we must un-conditionally accept our faults, but does offer a balanced, understanding approac ...more
Sue Bridehead (A Pseudonym)
This book is an uneasy combination of airy-fairy (my new favorite phrase) and academia. I believe that's a symptom of this being an emerging field where the standards of how to write about the subject aren't yet clear. Plus, I get the sense the author didn't want to write a popular psych book. I can't really blame her... however, those books sell like hotcakes. Then again, so is this one. (#1244 on Amazon as I type this review.) I think the keys to selling well with a nonfiction book are:
<
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CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian
I think this is the first self-help book I've ever read? It was quite a mixed bag: some of her examples including weight loss, sexuality, and her son's autism felt problematic to me, but at the same time I found the core components of the concept of self-compassion (mindfulness, being kind to yourself, emphasizing shared humanity) and her discussions of the dangers of self-criticism and focusing on high self-esteem very compelling and useful.

Some of the passages that stood our for me (some are
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Lisa
Aug 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I admit to being a bit of a self-help literature enthusiast. Hey, being a human (especially one living in this crazy 21st century) is hard! If a book can help someone find more peace of mind and skills for living, then I say that's all for the good!

Of all the books on my self-help shelf, Kristin Neff's Self Compassion just might be my absolute favorite. I discovered her book through the work of Brene Brown (whom I also love) and watched her TED talk, which I found very moving (I admit to being a bit of a self-help literature enthusiast. Hey, being a human (especially one living in this crazy 21st century) is hard! If a book can help someone find more peace of mind and skills for living, then I say that's all for the good!

Of all the books on my self-help shelf, Kristin Neff's Self Compassion just might be my absolute favorite. I discovered her book through the work of Brene Brown (whom I also love) and watched her TED talk, which I found very moving (
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvtZB...). Her book did not disappoint. It is a guidebook for living with more compassion for oneself and for others. So often we feel afraid that if we are kind and compassionate towards ourselves we will become lazy. I know I fall into this trap pretty much every day! Neff discusses this trap and why it is not only unhelpful but also false. Practicing self-compassion can actually lead us to live happier and more fruitful lives (emphasis on the happier!).

Neff writes with the warm and compassionate quality to be expected from the bearer of her message. She supports her views with scientific evidence and life-experiences, which she references throughout. She also gives you exercises to do along the way in order to help you find compassion for yourself and start using meaningful practices to become more self-compassionate. Many of these exercises I'm actually still working on and will probably revisit over and over in the years to come!

What I like most about Neff's work is her attitude towards suffering. I am always suspicious when authors imply that suffering can/should be avoided or even eliminated entirely. Suffering is a part of life, a necessary one, even if it is difficult. To endeavor to completely avoid it would be very unhealthy (not to mention impossible). Thus, I find that the writers who resonate the most with me are those who seek to help their readers deal with the inevitable suffering they will face in life. Neff does exactly this. In fact, the idea of hers that I love the most is that when we are well-practiced in the art of self-compassion, our suffering can become an opportunity to feel loved and support from within ourselves. That is a wonderful thought to me! The ability to console oneself during life's difficult moments is something to strive for, and I feel certain that reading Self Compassion has given me a good start to leading a happier, healthier, more compassionate life.
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Wai Yip Tung
Mar 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
If we can have compassion for others, shouldn't we treat ourselves with just as much compassion, especially when we are in face of inevitable difficulties and failure? Kristin Neff bring out the concept of self-compassion. To be human is to err. So we should learn to treat ourselves kindly as we would treat others, to realized our life are connect to other human beings and to be mindful of our emotions.

I find this a very appealing concept. Rather than review the book in detail, I'd l
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Emily Davenport
Sep 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: recovering perfectionists.
I always joke that I wish I could eat books and have the stories live inside me, but this book is truly one I want to enter into every cell and fiber and corner of my being. I have always been so hard on myself, and now is no exception. This book is so wonderful. It has research, practical activities, and the author's own story woven through to present a convincing case for the absolute necessity of self-compassion for every person in this world. I want to live and breathe this book and use the ...more
Diane
Jan 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
This very helpful book demonstrates that self-compassion is a better path to mental health and happiness than self-esteem. Dr. Neff is an expert on this subject, and uses a combination of western psychology, meditation, and Buddhist philosophy to demonstrate the method. It's a very enjoyable and interesting read, with personal examples from the author's life and exercises to help you put self-compassion into practice.
Deb
Dec 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
**Life is better when you can be kind to yourself**

Given the fact that we have to live with ourselves 24/7, it’s not too surprising just how important self-compassion is to our quality of life. This gem of a book is certainly a testament to that.

In the words of the author:
“Self-compassion is a powerful way to achieve emotional well-being and contentment in our lives. By giving ourselves unconditional kindness and comfort while embracing the human experience, difficult as it is, we
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Jacob
Jan 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brain-health
The core of Self-Compassion and Neff's premise are entirely compelling. As piece of writing, however, Neff's book is woefully uneven.

This book's most persistent weakness is the writing, both in tone and approach. Often the book reads like the author is literally speaking to a large group instead of taking advantage of the written word to construct her case. She frequently gives anecdotes that are so flat and tailor-made to illustrate her point they feel entirely fabricated. So for much of this book
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Mindfully Evie
Although some of the other books cover “self-compassion”, this book really goes into the depths of it and explains just how important it is. Since reading this book I have really taken the advice to heart, and I am now practising self-compassion daily and it has made such a huge difference to my life. With the everyday pressures in Western Society this book needs to be prescribed to anyone who suffers from self-criticism, stress, anxiety, depression, or physical illness – so basically everyone! ...more
Scout Collins
Mar 16, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars | Have a lot to say about this one!

Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself is a unique and interesting approach to dealing with negative emotions. Instead of relying on support and understanding from others, Neff argues you should rely on yourself and equips you with some basic self-compassion practices.

Throughout the book I was mostly impressed with the concepts and ideas, however something bothered me throughout - the author's strong repulsion to the concept of working on your self/>Self-Compassion:
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Braeden
I took a mindful self compassion course through Kristin Neff’s MSC institute. That course taught me to accept myself, to have compassion for myself, and to be kinder to myself. This has had profound impacts on my personal relationships. I’m able to forgive more quickly and genuinely because when I accept I am wrong, I realize that I made a mistake, not that I am a mistake. I’m able to feel more calm when I have anxiety because I more mindful of what I am feeling and have loving kindness for myse ...more
Becca
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: psych
I agree with some of her ideas: That kindness towards ourselves is more motivating than self-criticism and self-judgment. That it’s worthwhile to recognize our suffering as part of the human experience. And that a growth mindset (including acceptance of “failure”) while focusing on achieving personal goals will produce greater life satisfaction than “playing it safe” and trying to impress others.

However, I didn’t find her examples engaging, especially the anecdotes from her own life. Her insist
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Dna
Oct 19, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Mind numbing. I'd rather be an asshole to myself. Bye!
Shona Tiger
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
An important read. My worldview is quite different to hers, but I found this book very helpful, and have learnt some principles I'm incorporating into my daily practice.
Sarah M
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club-2019
A great book to help you look inward to how you treat yourself and the ways your self-compassion, or lack thereof, impacts your life and happiness. Lots of practical advice and exercises that are easily executable, as well as anecdotes and confessions from the author herself on how these practices have worked for her. A great resource that I will be implementing and revisiting as needed.
Beverly Fox
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, self-help
I am a therapist by profession but it would be a disservice to this book (and more importantly, this practice) to say that it has just changed how I counsel. It has changed how I live.

I practice these techniques as much as I preach them, perhaps more, and it is completely altering how I feel, think and function. When I get hurt, mess up, fall into bad habits my first impulse (because old habits die so hard) is still that self criticism that is so deeply ingrained. BUT there’s a secon
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Marine
Jul 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I can't begin to explain how much i am in love with this book. It speaks truth and enlightened me on so many different levels.
Kristin gave many small simple exercises that we can practice on our own to practice kindness to ourself. She gave many real-life experiences and experiments held to prove her point. Very interesting to read.

Basically, the 3 basic fundamentals of self-compassions is Kindness, common humanity and mindfulness. She explains each components very clearly and easy to grasp ma
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Zaher Alhaj
Dec 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people having intense emotions of perfectionism and stress
When I first came across the term "Self-compassion", I told myself: "here we are with a new touchy-feely self-help nonsense", equaling it with "Self-pity". Shortly thereafter, I came across an article by the writer Neff on http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/ and then I found out that this concept is a real thread that is woven deeply in the fabric of our human nature.
From our early ages, we have been taught to be special and above average, forcing us to feel better than others, to seek the illusion of perfectionism, to beat ours
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Gloria Denoon
Jan 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Neff’s definition of self-compassion has been extremely helpful to my personal practice. According to her, there are three doorways to self-compassion: kindness to oneself, common humanity (we all suffer but can support each other), and mindfulness.

No high theories. Very practical.

She gets extra credits for using her own personal experiences, some of which are big mistakes, in various analyses to show how we could turn missteps and sufferings to learning opportunities so that we can
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Dr. Kristin Neff is an Associate Professor in Human Development and Culture at the University of Texas at Austin.

During Kristin’s last year of graduate school in 1997 she became interested in Buddhism, and has been practicing meditation in the Insight Meditation tradition ever since. While doing her post-doctoral work she decided to conduct research on self-compassion – a central const
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“Compassion is, by definition, relational. Compassion literally means 'to suffer with,' which implies a basic mutuality in the experience of suffering. The emotion of compassion springs from the recognition that the human experience is imperfect.” 31 likes
“This is a moment of suffering. Suffering is part of life. May I be kind to myself in this moment. May I give myself the compassion I need.” 19 likes
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