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The Science of Self Compassion

Dr. Kristin Neff | 41:49


We have a very, very special guest with us here today. Her name is Kristin Neff. And we have a very interesting topic for today. So thank you so much for being here.

You're welcome. me just tell you briefly about how I got involved with self compassion and how it got to the point where it is now where it's really my life's work. It actually all started not too far from here, I was going to graduate school at UC Berkeley, getting my PhD. 

And basically, my life was a mess. I had just gotten out of a divorce, it was very messy, I was feeling a lot of shame. I was under a lot of stress, not so much about what I get my PhD but was I couldn't get a job after getting my PhD. 

That was a big stressor for me. And so, you know, I was in Berkeley, and I had heard about meditation. And I had heard that meditation was good for stress. And there was literally a meditation group just down the block for me. So I went to this meditation group. And really, to my surprise, the woman leaving the group at talked about the importance of self compassion, about how we had this ability to be kind, supportive, caring to ourselves, when times are difficult.

And it was it was like exactly the message I needed to hear in that moment. Believe it or not, I started changing the way related to myself, instead of judging myself and shaming myself, I started to try to be like a kind, supportive friend. And it made a huge difference almost immediately. And then luckily, I did get a job, I got a job at UT Austin where I am now. 

And then I decided I wanted to research self compassion, because I thought it offered a lot of benefits that self esteem didn't, I actually did two years of postdoctoral study with the self esteem researcher. And while I was while I was working with her, I realized self esteem, although it's good for mental health is pretty problematic. For instance, to have high self esteem, we have to be special and above average, like everyone, as we at the same time special and above average, which is basically a logical impossibility, right? So we get involved with all these ego games, trying to raise their self esteem suddenly putting other people down or getting ego defensive.

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