Interview: 9 Powerful Ways to Care for Your Emotional Health

In this PsychCentral post, I shared my perspective on emotional health: what it is and how self-compassion is a powerful tool in caring for this aspect of ourselves. I describe emotional health as “the ability to feel and respond to emotions in a way that is adaptive and functional, that supports one’s relationships and autonomy, and is in alignment with one’s core values.” I also shared my perspective on the ways that emotions give us vital information about ourselves and our needs, telling us whether our needs are being met or not. Emotional health is intentionally choosing to respond to an emotion, instead of reacting “in a way that is habitual, unconsidered and often unconscious.”

Quoted in PsychCentral: A Different Take on New Year's Resolutions

In this PsychCentral article, I share my perspective on how to think about New Year’s Resolutions in a more self-compassionate way, and how self-compassion is a form of unconditional self-esteem: “It is an understanding that you are worthy of love and acceptance as you are right now; no matter how many wrinkles you have, how much you weigh or what your body composition may be. It is inherently stable: you don’t have to earn love or hustle for worthiness. You are deserving of it right now.”

Quoted in PsychCentral: 5 Ways to Deepen Your Relationship With Yourself

In this post from PsychCentral, I share my perspective on how self-compassion is a fundamental aspect of having a deeper relationship with yourself. I suggested a few ways to do this. For example, as you go about your day, notice what you say “yes” to. These are activities and needs that will deeply nourish you. Then listen to yourself, and act on these yeses. I shared these examples: “Yes, I’m going to go out with friends rather than work late (like I do most nights); yes, I want to take that class that is interesting to me that I think I don’t have time for; yes, I want to take care of my finances so I’m going to call my student loan servicer; yes, I want to be more mindful in my relationships so I’m going to reflect on what I want to say in response to a challenging email.”

Quoted in PsychCentral: Why Self-Compassion Isn't Self-Indulgent

In this article on PsychCentral, I share my perspective on the very common idea that self-compassion is about letting yourself off the hook and having no self-discipline. “Shinraku likened self-compassion to being a “good-enough parent”: a parent who’s kind and gives their kids boundaries. ‘A good-enough parent doesn’t just let their child eat ice cream and play video games all day every day; they know that indulging them in that way would actually not be compassionate or kind. It would be harmful.’”

Interview: How to Stop Speaking Harshly to Yourself

I was recently interviewed for this article in PsychCentral about how self-compassion can help in quieting the inner critic. I also shared my perspective on how “our harsh self-talk is actually an alarm that indicates we’re facing something scary. … If harsh self-talk is an alarm, your fear is the fire, Shinraku said. ‘We get so caught up in how loud and harsh the sound of the alarm is, that we do not attend to the fire that’s burning—the fear and suffering that require our attention and compassion.’”

Interview: Ways to be Kind to Your Body When You Don't Like It Very Much

I was interviewed for a two-part series of articles on PsychCentral about self-compassion and body image. I shared my perspective on the ways that self-compassion practices provide powerful gateways to relating with deeper kindness and acceptance to our physical selves. Some of these practices come from the Mindful Self-Compassion course, which I teach. Others are practices that I’ve developed and shared over the years.

Self-Expression vs. Self-Improvement

Each January, it’s tempting to start thinking about resolutions and creating plans for how we’re going to become new and improved versions of ourselves. The means may vary ~ a change in exercise frequency, eating habits, finances, career ~ but the underlying assumption is often the same: There’s something wrong with the way we are right now. While the impulse for growth is an essential part of being alive, when we pursue it in a way that’s disconnected from a respect for who we are, it can feel oppressive instead of liberating.

Self-Compassion: Trick or Treat?

When you think about self-compassion, do you feel worried that it’s a trick ~ that if you treat yourself with kindness, something bad will happen? Even if you know, intellectually, that self-compassion is important and something you want to cultivate, there are probably some parts of you that aren’t so sure. If you have a history of being a perfectionist, or feeling that you need to be productive at all times, you may have some resistance to practicing self-compassion!

What the "Fires" in Your Life Can Teach You

Fire and heat and impermanence are on the minds of many folks right now. In the last two weeks, wildfires in Northern California have burned over 140,000 acres combined. While the fires are becoming increasingly contained, they are still burning as I write this. I have been thinking a lot about the people, animals, trees and land impacted by these fires. I know at least one person who lost her home, and I have been moved by the courageous and pragmatic way that she is meeting her experience abrupt change and unexpected loss.

Self-Compassion for Healthier Relationships

It’s probably obvious that cultivating self-compassion will help you come into a healthier relationship with yourself. When you practice interrupting old patterns of self-criticism and relating to your experience with greater curiosity and less judgment, your internal climate becomes significantly friendlier.

Self-Compassion and Self-Forgiveness

I was at Austin Zen Center recently, attending a ceremony for my teacher, who was installed as the Center’s first abbot. As part of the ceremony, my teacher made five statements to summarize his teaching. The one that stuck with me most was this: whatever you find in yourself, acknowledge it, accept it, and forgive. This statement aligns very closely with the three aspects of self-compassion: awareness, a sense of common humanity, and kindness. It also sounds like a recipe for making amends with oneself, and I wanted to share it with you.

Self-Compassion for "Unforced Errors"

If you’re human, you’ve probably made an unforced error. An unforced error is a sports term that refers to a missed shot or lost point (as in tennis or volleyball) that’s entirely a result of the player's own error and not because of the opponent's skill or effort. In other words, it’s the shot you “should” have made. You’ve made shots like that hundreds, maybe thousands of times, yet for some reason, you missed it this time.