Transforming our life with Self Compassion Journaling


Vaibhavi Bafna


We all are aware of journaling and how it benefits us. However, if we add a secret ingredient to it, journaling becomes extremely powerful. This secret ingredient is self-compassion.

What exactly do we mean by self-compassion? Every one of us has a different definition of self-compassion; however, here is an attempt to describe this quality in words:

Self-compassion is showering ourselves the same amount of love, care and gratitude that we shower on others when they go through something difficult or fail at something. It also shows how kind you are to ourselves when we are in need, rather than criticizing. It also means being mindful at the moment for our own self. Being kind to ourselves and accepting ourselves as the way we are.

Following are some terms associated with self-compassion: warmth, love, empathy, concern, acceptance, kindness, understanding, sufficient. These words will help us get a better understanding of what self-compassion is.

Kristin Neff is a widely recognized researcher on self-compassion. According to her research, there are 3 main elements of self-compassion. They are:

1. Self-kindness
2. Recognizing one’s humanity
3. Mindfulness

Following are the benefits of self-compassion:

1. Greater happiness
2. High optimism and motivation
3. More conscientiousness (organized behavior) and willingness to take initiatives
4. High agreeableness and increased curiosity, learning and exploration

Self-compassion journal

The writing prompts for self-compassion journal include the three elements that Kristin Neff mentioned: humanity, self-kindness and being mindful. We can maintain a self-compassion journal for a minimum of a week by writing things that made us angry, any incidents of expressing strong emotions in the wrong way, our failures, self-judgement, lack of empathy towards others, etc. We will first write about all the things that made us dislike ourselves or pity ourselves. But, there’s a rule: We will write about these events after applying some/all of the filters of mindfulness, humanity and self-kindness.

1. Being mindful

Mindfulness means being present and experiencing emotions in the present moment (in contrast to being fearful about the future or guilty about the past). Being mindful includes our awareness about our emotions. Especially our painful emotions towards the self when we judged ourselves or failed at something, etc. We need to write about all the negative emotions we felt, for example: depressed, ashamed, guilty, angry, hateful, stressed, and so on. It really difficult, but we need to try to be non-judgmental towards ourselves.

2. Self-kindness

Let’s be kind towards ourselves. Be understanding. Imagine ourselves to be someone else, preferably a close friend, and write a letter or a page of a journal every day for at least a week. Let our words provide comfort to ourselves. Let’s be gentle, spread warmth, and give assurance to ourselves. For example, it’s okay to sometimes feel alone, it’s okay when we think nothing is working in our favour, but we need to know that it’s all going to pass and we will certainly achieve our goals as long as we sincerely keep working towards them.

3. Common humanity

Common humanity means acknowledging the fact that we are human beings and we are not perfect. It means that we are allowed to make mistakes and it is okay to do so, to fail sometimes and to take more time to accomplish our goals than society expects us to. Also, we need to know the fact that every human being is different and everyone experiences life events differently. Our emotions may not be the same as someone else’s.

These three elements help us in organizing our thoughts and emotions. Writing a journal with these 3 elements help us in becoming aware of our emotions and help us further in gaining awareness of thoughts and our true self.

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Rohit Chopra
The best part of journalism is that when we actually see what we've been thinking anf obsessing over the past week or month, we find that stuff to be trivial and are able to let it go!