Choosing Self-Compassion by Kelley Grimes at Cultivating Peace and Joy

A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.”

~Christopher Germer


Life provides many challenging experiences that may trigger feelings of not being worthy or feeling good enough. These experiences may come when we are in a transition of some kind, learning something new, or stretching outside our comfort zone.


When this happens, shame and a sense of unworthiness may prevent us from consistently nurturing ourselves and we end up feeling chronically stressed and overwhelmed. Transforming our shame and unworthiness then becomes essential in cultivating more peace and joy in our lives. Empathy and self-compassion have the power to transform our shame and unworthiness into kindness and self-acceptance.


So how can we cultivate the healing salve of self-compassion? To begin with we can bring a spirit of curiosity and non-judgment when we make a mistake. Instead of judging or criticizing ourselves, we can use the mistake as an opportunity to learn something about ourselves. Choosing to respond to ourselves with compassion creates space to acknowledge how we are feeling, affirm our own experience and reminds us that we are doing the best that we can. When we respond with self-compassion we turn down the volume of our inner critic and begin the process of befriending ourselves.


I believe that choosing to respond to ourselves with compassion is a transformational act of acceptance and love. When we are able to accept ourselves, challenges and all, we have the ability to live more honestly and authentically and with more peace. Self-compassion then becomes the foundation of transforming our shame and unworthiness and empowers us to live with more ease.


Self-compassion also allows us to treat ourselves like our own best friend and remain open hearted and kind to ourselves even when we make mistakes or disappoint ourselves. Choosing self-compassion and self-acceptance recognizes that even when we make a mistake, we are not a mistake.


I really appreciate this quote from Marshall Rosenberg, “An important aspect of self-compassion is to be able to empathically hold both parts of ourselves–the self that regrets a past action and the self that took the action in the first place.” Recognizing that we are magnificent complicated beings with brilliance and messiness co-existing allows us to be more accepting and loving to ourselves.


When is it easier to respond to yourself with self-compassion and when do you struggle to do so?


Even if you have never responded to yourself with self-compassion, you can begin the process today. The next time you make a mistake, pause. Notice what you are saying to yourself? Choose to respond with understanding and compassion to yourself. If you find yourself being critical or judgmental ask yourself if you would speak to a dear friend this way. If not choose to be intentionally kind to yourself and notice the difference it makes.


Remember, “Loving yourself is healing the world.” Jaymie Gerard 


When we choose to befriend ourselves and respond with self-compassion, we can more gently approach our mistakes and see them as opportunities for growth and learning rather than an indictment of our unworthiness. Indeed, that kinder and more gentle approach is how we love ourselves with compassion.


Befriending ourselves by embracing self-compassion will open us to the infinite possibilities of truly knowing ourselves, and being engaged in our lives with a wide-open heart! Cultivating compassion for ourselves will deepen our self-nurturing practice and create new patterns in our brains. Choosing self-compassion turns challenges into lessons and struggle into gratitude and growth.


May you feel empowered to choose self-compassion and treat yourself like your own best friend as you nurture peace in the world from the inside out!


Kelley Grimes

Sending you so much peace, love and gratitude,

Kelley Grimes, M.S.W.
Counselor, Author & Speaker

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Join the discussion 14 Comments

  • Suzie Cheel says:

    Kelley this jumped to for me believe that choosing to respond to ourselves with compassion is a transformational act of acceptance and love. I so see and feel that. So often I see people , me included being tough on ourselves, where as if we stepped into love we would feel the shift. xxoo

  • Heather says:

    I chose an Oracle Card yesterday that would be in our highest good. It was from Quan Yin regarding compassion. She says “Compassion is about recognizing the spirit in others, it’s about seeing that they come from the same source as you do.” When you move into compassion and develop a greater understanding, it will elevate your spirit and connection to love. I wrote about this yesterday on my Facebook and in my latest blog, Returning to Love
    Offering care, forgiveness and compassion is so important, to ourselves and to others. When you live from the heart based center of your soul, you have a great understanding of this.

    • Beautiful Heather! I love that perspective that compassion reminds us we come from the same source and is the practice of returning to love. Thank you so much for your beautiful comment!

  • Leila says:

    “Choosing to respond to ourselves with compassion creates space to acknowledge how we are feeling, affirm our own experience and reminds us that we are doing the best that we can. “
    Thank you for such a deep reminder Kelley.

  • CK Kochis says:

    Beautiful article, Kelley. I am grateful for your words of wisdom. This reinforces something I heard in a podcast yesterday: look in the mirror and meditate -see the beauty- looking into your eyes. Self-compassion is a powerful act of loving Self. It is what heals us.

  • Reading your post this week took me down memory lane, Kelley. As a tough corporate CFO I used to drive myself harder to keep the morale of my team going when we had a new accounting and insurance system implemented at our office and we had more crashes that required extra hours than was warranted.

    My best friend at the time told me to stop being hard on myself and to show some kindness to my body and health. Fortunately I listened to her otherwise I wouldn’t be around today to read your lovely post. The key lesson I learned was that until one can love oneself unconditionally, there isn’t enough love to give to others.

  • I’ve always loved Louise Hay’s idea that we are never wrong, we are just doing the best we have with the knowledge and experience we have at the time. If we make a choice that doesn’t work out the way we had hoped, we just learn from it and make another choice. We are not worthless, just always learning and evolving.

  • Debby says:

    I love this timely post (no accidents, right?). Compassion for others actually begins with compassion for ourselves. Loving acceptance of our light and dark and expressing compassion and love when we act out of our values brings transformation like no other acts. Thank you for this beautiful post.

  • Sue Kearney says:

    Or there’s this other method. Or is it non-method? When I began to take my thinking (worry, stress, dissatisfaction, regret) less seriously, I was surprised to find myself laughing at my human foibles more and cringing less. Even when I see someone on the street whom I know I know, I no longer need to dash across the way and hide myself. Instead I laugh and confess that I’m not remembering how I know you. Guess what? The other person laughs too, often confesses the same, and we move on, not more deeply connected than before.

    That’s a kind of self-compassion that I don’t have to talk my way into. I like it.

  • Andrea says:

    This was a tough lesson: I used to berate myself for mistakes, despite knowing it was OK for others. How arrogant is that???? Wow.

    Somehow that thought (the arrogance of expecting SO MUCH more of myself than of others) freed me to be a bit kinder to myself. Funny thing? Self-compassion made me kinder to others! Thanks for a lovely post.

  • Reba Linker says:

    As you know, we are on the same path, learning, ever more deeply, to turn to the self with love and compassion. I especially appreciate your advice: “we can bring a spirit of curiosity and non-judgment when we make a mistake.” Such a self-loving, powerful strategy!

  • Donna Marie Bozman says:

    I so needed to rest your explanation is self compassion. Thank you

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