Living in Recovery Mental Health

How to Practice More Self-Compassion (Even When Life Gets Rough)

Self-compassion often gets a bad rep. People associate being kind to themselves as selfish, conceited, or even narcissistic. Read More

Self-compassion often gets a bad rep. People associate being kind to themselves as selfish, conceited, or even narcissistic. As a result, we often criticize and shame ourselves when we make mistakes. We hold ourselves to unrealistic standards because we assume we need to act in a certain way to be “good enough.” 

But these punitive methods only tend to perpetuate more contempt and frustration. And instead of feeling motivated, we’re often left feeling discouraged. 

Self-compassion refers to embracing themes of kindness, acceptance, and understanding. Here’s how it works and how you can embrace it in your life. 

Three Pillars of Self-Compassion

In her research and writing, Dr. Kristen Neff breaks the concept of self-compassion into three categories. Implementing these concepts into your daily routine can help you feel better about yourself- they can also boost your sense of resilience and courage.


You’re probably kind and generous to other people. But how do you treat yourself? If you’re like most people, you’re probably harsh. 

Self-kindness refers to the notion of treating yourself the way you want others to treat you. In other words, it means being patient, respectful, and forgiving. 

Of course, self-kindness doesn’t mean absolving yourself of all personal accountability (that’s a serious form of denial!). But by accepting that you’re a flawed human, you allow yourself to learn from your mistakes and use that insight to propel future growth.

You can practice more self-kindness by attuning to your needs. For example, do you eat when your body tells you it’s hungry? Do you allow yourself time to rest? Do you engage in hobbies that feel meaningful and important to your well-being? 

Self-kindness also comes from setting boundaries and avoiding toxic behaviors. When it comes to your recovery, it may entail limiting or avoiding triggering environments. It may also include reevaluating your relationships to ensure you surround yourself with people who support you.

Common Humanity 

Common humanity refers to the notion that everyone struggles and experiences pain. To hurt is to be human. You are not alone in your struggles, even if you feel like you are.

Embracing common humanity means leaning on this mindset when things get tough. Ideally, you will avoid isolating or playing the victim. Instead, you will remind yourself that everyone experiences anguish and setbacks- therefore, leaning on support can be invaluable. 

You can also use positive affirmations when you feel like you’re alone. For example, during your recovery, an affirmation may be, “everyone experiences cravings,” or, “many other people have experienced from an issue like this- and they learn how to get through it without using.” 


Self-compassion is rooted in mindfulness. When you are present with yourself, your circumstances, and your current emotions, you fully allow yourself to be in the moment. 

Embracing a mindfulness mindset can help you feel more resilient. In addition, it can maintain a sense of calmness- even when things feel chaotic.  

You can practice mindfulness in several ways. Some people prefer meditation. Others may engage in active, intentional exercise. Mindfulness also means being present and attuned in daily activities, such as in your work or in conversations you share with loved ones. 

Embracing More Self-Compassion

Self-compassion starts with recognizing that you deserve self-compassion. Moreover, you need to believe its merit to implement it in your life!

But remember that self-compassion coincides with a healthy recovery. You need to believe in yourself. Subsequently, you need to actively take care of your needs and practice optimal stress management when life becomes difficult. Embracing that mentality allows you to be the best version of yourself, which brings more happiness and peace.