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The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  2,736 ratings  ·  158 reviews
“Buck up.” “Stop feeling sorry for yourself.” “Don’t ruin everything.” When you are anxious, sad, angry, or lonely, do you hear this self-critical voice? What would happen if, instead of fighting difficult emotions, we accepted them? Over his decades of experience as a therapist and mindfulness meditation practitioner, Dr. Christopher Germer has learned a paradoxical lesso ...more
Paperback, 306 pages
Published April 29th 2009 by The Guilford Press (first published 2009)
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This is a wonderful book. I will try to explain why. There are many books on mindfulness out there, and plenty more on "loving-kindness" (the "compassion" of this title). I've read or at least skimmed quite a few. Too often, I would find it hard to connect with what I was reading or even feel that I could apply the concepts to my own situation in any meaningful way. There were always blocks, the "yes buts". To my surprise, the author of this book, Christopher Germer, anticipated many of my "yes ...more
JJ Lassberg
Jul 21, 2011 is currently reading it
Shelves: 101littlelessons
Thoughts for today... stop trying to "cure" myself and start "caring" for myself.
Cozette R
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book was recommended to me by a doctor. It gives you tools to help you to stop having destructive thoughts towards yourself. A lot of it is teaching you how to meditate. So you can control your mind from having bad thoughts towards yourself. If you struggle with depression and anxiety as I do this book can help.
Jen Marin
Love says, "I am everything."
Wisdom says, "I am nothing."
Between these two my life flows.

~ Nisagradatta Maharaj

Our culture teaches us that happiness depends on external circumstances, but that is not really the case. In The Mindful Path to Self Compassion, Christopher K. Germer, PhD., states that 2/3 of people without chronic back pain display the same structural dysfunction as those experiencing pain. In another study, job satisfaction was found to be a predictor of developing low back pain. Bu
Mar 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: life, mindfulness
I'm cultivating mindfulness and self-compassion; this book is a gold mine.

p. 57 All mindfulness exercises have 3 basic components: stop (also, slow down!), observe (notice and label what you're feeling), return (gently refocus on your focal object whenever you stray from it).

p. 66 In times of difficult emotion:
For 10 minutes, find a comfortable position, close your eyes, take 3 relaxing breaths.
- observe your body--position in chair, sensations
- bring attention to your heart region--may wa
CKG gives here an outline culled not only from his extensive reading but also from his wide experience and his genuine compassion for the human condition. He is not a guru or even well known. Certainly I had never heard of him when I picked up this unassuming book. But lo! within these covers is the operating manual that went missing when the state began to run this spaceship earth according to the military model.

That was a long time ago, and in the interim we, on the whole, have evolved mostly
May 20, 2012 rated it did not like it
Similar to the mindful book on depression, I found myself feeling this book was written/geared more for that of a lay person. Therefore I found little of it refreshing or helpful for me.
Jun 09, 2018 rated it liked it
I found this a hard book to get motivated to read. I've always worked to avoid pain, not to think about it. This book makes a strong case for why we should not work on avoiding pain but instead accept it . Not be resigned to pain and give up - rather to change your emotional & physical reaction to it. Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

Germer writes about how we need to practice self acceptance, not try to improve ourselves. We should focus on responding to the pain that comes up in our l
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the most comprehensive and most valuable book on self-compassion I have come across. 4.5 stars for sure.

The author clarifies the relationship between mindfulness and self-compassion. And does so in a way that brings many ah-ha moments.

Even with having read a lot about self-compassion, I feel I read things in this book I hadn't come across before. And for that I am grateful. I recommend this book to my students and clients frequently.

We all struggle with self-compassion to one degree or
Sep 06, 2010 rated it liked it
This book reads like a meditation textbook and self-compassion workbook. I appreciated the perspective of allowing your thoughts to wander and not 'fight' your mind when practicing mindfulness. The exercises are useful in learning to bring peace and ease to anxious thoughts and feelings. I do feel some of the meditation exercises would work better as an audio CD rather than trying to do the steps while relaxed and eyes closed when you have to read each step in-between. Self-Compassion is somethi ...more
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very nicely written guide for beginners, but some of the thoughts and practices might be beneficial even for more advanced meditators, especially for those who's been doing mostly concentration techniques, but would like to incorporate more mindfulness and self-compassion. I especially liked the variety of different ideas and exercises, so there's something for everyone, really.
Feb 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I'd add this to the list of books that have changed my life.
Book Calendar
Mar 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: attention
The Mindful Path to Self Compassion Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions by Christopher K. Germer, Ph.D.

Christopher Germer is writing a book that combines buddhism, meditation, and psychology. While it includes buddhist practices, there is little preaching. In some ways, the book mirrors the concept of a higher power in alcoholics anonymous where the practitioner is asked to believe in a higher power, but not necessarily a religious one.

Librarians often run into issues surroun
Aug 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Self-compassion is a form of acceptance...self-compassion is acceptance of the person to whom it's happening. It's acceptance of ourselves while we're in pain. Both acceptance and self-compassion seem to happen more easily after we've given up the struggle to feel better.

3.5 stars

I listened to this book and I really wish I had just checked it out from the library and slowly read my way through it. But alas, due dates happened and I had to rush through this, without giving myself adequate time t
Vena Meridel
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For years people have been telling me that I should meditate. and for years that meant nothing to me - in that I couldn't even picture what that would be/mean (even having grown up around Buddhists). In a moment of need, I started googling books on mindfulness and guess what was at the top of these lists? This book which someone had already given me.
I dug it out of my book shelves and jumped in. It was the first time that I felt like I had practical instructions and explanations for what mindfu
Jun 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
A great book to read or just to flip through; it is easy to read and well organized.

It has practical meditation guidance for harnessing self-compassion and loving kindness in a daily life. It is a psychology book, not a spiritual book; although there are many references to Buddhism and a few other religious traditions. I found this as a helpful follow up to Kristin Neff's book Self-Compassion.

Throughout the book the author guides reader to find the healthy range of emotional balance through se
Dec 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: therapy, psychology
Enjoyed this book a lot and have used it clinically with clients. The gist of it is, instead of 'fixing' what ails us (the classic mental health approach to problems), the mindfulness approach teaches us to 'lean into' the pain ... "pain is inevitable; suffering is optional." Accepting the painful, learning to be mindful of it, and treating ourselves with compassion is more or less the idea. I have guided clients through a few of the mediation exercises and found it worked well (in particular th ...more
Neha Menon
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spiritual, favorites
This book was truly incredible. One that I will indefinitely use as a reference in order to navigate my life better. Germer's words highlights what I refer to as "grounded spirituality." This book is spiritual in that it allows individuals to have a better connection with ourselves. It is grounded because it provides practical, tangible, ways for readers to do this. Germer's book is incredibly interactive, as it offers several meditations exemplifying his points. Also, his ph.D background comes ...more
Aug 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
As a therapist, I use some exercises from this book with my clients. I know this might concern some of my Christian friends, but often, very anxious people need tools to keep in their toolbox so their minds don't race when they are lying in bed or feeling overwhelmed from some trauma. I don't agree with the philosophical underpinnings of the book as a believer. I do think that some of the exercises and illustrations are helpful for people who struggle with anxiety. I think the author has an int ...more
Nov 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: health, nonfiction
I put this down and picked it back up a few times over the course of reading it -- as I did with my meditation practice -- but I have found this incredibly helpful in getting back on track with where I want to be in a lot of ways. The idea of taking care of myself is something I'm still coming to grips with a year after my diagnosis with a chronic illness, but this is helping me get there a lot easier. It's a great companion to a meditation retreat I went to in December, and I see myself picking ...more
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I came to this book with almost two years of meditation practice, along with a strong intent of self-compassion, so the concepts weren't entirely new to me. I found the writing of this book to be super engaging, accessible and authentic. I appreciated attention paid to bodily experiences, challenges that might occur, and the incorporation of many different storytelling elements. He included poems, teachings from various Buddhist teachers, cultural references, scientific studies and more. I'd rec ...more
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What a lovely read!! I didn't realize that a month of reading this book could truly make me more self-compassionate! I first read it out of desperation to love myself, and once I got to practicing the things he was teaching, I began to notice changes in my self-talk and more gentleness toward others! I speak the loving-kindness phrases to myself and I become less threatened and more vulnerable to others and am way more compassionate toward them. I highly recommend this book! It drastically has c ...more
Mar 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
One of the most insightful books I have read about freeing yourself from destructive thoughts and emotions. This book teaches some simple but powerful methods than can provide emotional healing, ease anxiety, create greater peace of mind, and enhance one's quality of life. Dr. Germer shows that by feeling compassion for oneself, we can show greater compassion to others, and he provides us with some concrete, invaluable techniques that help the reader to do so.
Mary Anne
Oct 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book was my bible throughout my internship in mental health counseling, and continues to serve me well. It is a well-researched book without being boring, and it is VERY user-friendly. I found it especially helpful when facilitating therapy groups. I have not yet read the book cover-to-cover, but I have used information from every chapter with clients, and have personally benefited from the suggested practices and ideas contained in it.
JoAnn Jordan
Jan 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful book. It teaches how to treat oneself with more love and kindness by using meditation to facilitate the practice. I have often wanted to meditate, but could not find a practice I could follow. This book introduces the use of metta and I can do that.

I would recommend this book to anyone trying to become more accepting of their life and themself.
Sara W.
Mar 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is fantastic! This is an eye-opener to all the readers who have feel sorry for themselves. Why? Because you don’t have to feel it, opposed to it. Yes, it is true that there are certain problems that really affects our emotions and confidence but that are made and come for a reason. It is not the reason to give up but to move up. We all know that experience is the best teacher.
Drew Drew
...probably the best intro book to mindfulness and artful problem solving. Does not require hours of practice or formal meditation.

This book is about bringing peace and mindfulness to every waking moment without much of the 'hokus pokus' that some books have.
Jul 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
I'm finding this book very helpful. It is a good follow-up to Kristen Neff's book, which had had so much impact on me -- stop short of saying "life-changing" but only because that sounds so trite. lol
Jun 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fun
This was the first book I ever read on the subject of mindfulness/Buddhism, and I devoured it, unlike a lot of self help type books that get bogged down in jargon and cause me to lose interest. I've since read many more books on the subject but this is one of my favorites.
Aug 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Read this as a supplement to my fledgling meditation efforts and I got a whole lot more from this book than I expected. Highly recommended to anyone prone to emotional deluges and/or anyone interested in basic meditation techniques. (It's easier and tougher than you think!)
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You know the saying: There's no time like the present...unless you're looking for a distraction from the current moment. In that case, we can't...
24 likes · 10 comments
“Actually, when bad things happen to us, we tend to have three unfortunate reactions: self-criticism, self-isolation, and self-absorption. Neff’s three components of self-compassion direct us exactly in the opposite direction: self-kindness, recognizing the common humanity in our experience, and a balanced approach to negative emotions.” 4 likes
“Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.” 4 likes
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