Self-Compassion Book Summary - Self-Compassion Book explained in key points
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Self-Compassion summary

Kristin Neff

The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself

4.6 (599 ratings)
29 mins

Brief summary

Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff provides readers with the tools to be kinder to themselves. Neff highlights the importance of self-compassion, and offers practical advice and exercises to help cultivate it in daily life.

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    Our tendency to be self-critical and to feel inadequate often stems from childhood.

    Got a personal problem? Trace it back to your childhood and blame it on your parents. In the popular imagination, that’s one of the most cliched ideas of psychology. Of course, it’s also an oversimplification, both of our problems and of what psychology has to say about them. But when we’re dealing with self-criticism and feelings of inadequacy, there’s actually an element of truth to it.

    The key message here is: Our tendency to be self-critical and to feel inadequate often stems from childhood.

    Psychological research shows that we’re much more likely to be critical of ourselves as adults if our parents were critical of us as children. That makes sense, if you stop and think about it. After all, as we’re growing up, we depend on our parents to guide us through life’s challenges, help us to understand the world around us, and make us feel safe and loved. As a result, we’re naturally inclined to trust their judgment and seek their approval.

    Now, combine that tendency with a highly critical parent, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. To see why, imagine you’re a child, and your parents criticize your every little action – from the way you eat your food at dinner to the way you dress yourself for school. And let’s say they also lace their criticism with disparaging remarks about you. They call you “stupid” for doing something wrong, like crossing the street without checking for traffic.

    After a while, the constant little criticisms and put-downs will add up to a more general indictment of you as a person: “I’m not okay the way I am. I need to be better. And unless I’m perfect, I won’t be worthy of love.” 

    That sort of thinking can make your parents’ criticism carry a very heavy blow to you as a child. Naturally, you’ll want to avoid it as best you can. And that may lead you to start anticipating your parents’ criticism. To avoid it, you preemptively criticize yourself before they have a chance to do it for you. That way, you can modify your behavior and avoid their disapproval ahead of time.

    At this point, you’ve internalized your parents’ criticism. Their judgmental words and voices have become a part of your mind’s internal commentary. If you, say, drop a glass of water, you might call yourself an “idiot” and criticize yourself for your clumsiness. 

    The end result? A deeply ingrained habit of self-criticism and sense of inadequacy that can continue well into adulthood.

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    What is Self-Compassion about?

    Self-Compassion (2011) is an urgent call for us to be more kind to ourselves. Based on empirical psychological research, it looks at the causes and effects of the vicious self-criticism and feelings of inadequacy that plague many of our minds. It then shows us a healthier, more compassionate way to relate to ourselves.

    Self-Compassion Review

    Self-Compassion (2011) by Kristin Neff is an enlightening book that explores the power of self-compassion in our lives. Here's why you should give it a read:

    • With empowering exercises and practical techniques, the book helps readers cultivate self-compassion and overcome self-criticism.
    • Neff incorporates scientific research, personal stories, and case studies to provide a comprehensive understanding of the importance of self-compassion.
    • This book challenges the notion that self-compassion is self-indulgent, exposing the universal benefits it brings to our mental health, relationships, and overall well-being.

    Best quote from Self-Compassion

    Research shows that self-critical people are less likely to achieve their goals due to their self-handicapping behaviors.

    —Kristin Neff
    example alt text

    Who should read Self-Compassion?

    • Self-critics
    • Self-doubters
    • Self-improvers

    About the Author

    Kristin Neff is an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Together with her colleague Chris Germer, she is the co-founder of the nonprofit Center for Mindful Self-Compassion, the co-developer of the Mindful Self-Compassion training program, and the co-author of The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook.

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    Self-Compassion FAQs 

    What is the main message of Self-Compassion?

    Self-Compassion teaches us to be kinder to ourselves and embrace our imperfections.

    How long does it take to read Self-Compassion?

    The reading time for Self-Compassion varies, but the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Self-Compassion a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Self-Compassion is a valuable read for cultivating self-acceptance and resilience.

    Who is the author of Self-Compassion?

    The author of Self-Compassion is Kristin Neff.

    What to read after Self-Compassion?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Self-Compassion, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • Making Work Human by Eric Mosley and Derek Irvine
    • The Mindful Way Through Depression by Mark Williams
    • Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
    • The Kindness Method by Shahroo Izadi
    • The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman
    • Unfu*k Yourself by Gary John Bishop
    • From Strength to Strength by Arthur C. Brooks