Creative Child

Conscious Parent Tip: Cultivating Self-Compassion

by Rebecca Eanes

3 Self-Compassion Exercises

Exercise #1: Exploring Self-Compassion through Writing

In this exercise, Neff asks which imperfections make you feel inadequate – something what causes shame or makes you feel like you’re not “good enough.”


She advises to write about the issue that makes you feel inadequate and notice what emotions come up when you think about this aspect of yourself. Next, write a letter to yourself from the perspective of an unconditionally loving imaginary friend. What would this friend say to you? In your letter, convey acceptance, understanding, and kindness.

The third part of this exercise is to then walk away from the letter for a while after you’ve written it, coming back later to read it again while letting the words sink in. Allow the compassion to pour in, comforting you.

Exercise #2: Self-Compassion Break

Think of a situation in your life that is causing you stress. Bring it to your awareness and actually feel the emotional discomfort. Say to yourself “this hurts” or “this is a moment of suffering.” This is being mindful of your situation. Next, put your hands over your heart and just acknowledge that you are not alone, and that we all struggle at times.


Then, practice repeating whichever phrase feels the most soothing to you. Examples are “may I be kind to myself,” “may I forgive myself,” and “may I be strong.”

Exercise #3: Changing Your Critical Self-Talk

Repeat these steps over a period of several weeks to transform how you treat yourself.

  1. Notice when you are being self-critical. Note your inner speech. What is the tone of your voice? Does this voice remind you of anyone in your past? Get to know your inner-critic well.
  2. Soften the self-critical voice with compassion. You might say, “I know you feel worried about me, but you are hurting me.” Then allow your compassionate self to speak. ##ad##
  3. Reframe the observations made by your inner critic in a friendly, positive way. That might sound like this: “I’m feeling exhausted and need to rest. I snapped at my child because she got out of bed again and now I feel bad. I will go and apologize to her, give her a warm hug, and then I’ll set aside my to-do list and take 30 minutes to read my book. I deserve to be taken care of, too.”

It’s true that parenting is hard work, but it isn’t growing the children that is so difficult. It’s growing ourselves. If you and I put in the work now to silence the inner critic and cultivate self-compassion, not only will we benefit, but our children will to.

Wouldn’t it be nice for them to grow up and not have to work so hard at loving themselves?

Related Article: 8 Actions to Chase Away the Mama Blues

Rebecca Eanes is the bestselling author of multiple books including Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, The Positive Parenting Workbook, and The Gift of a Happy Mother. She is the grateful mom of two boys. 


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