About Compassion & Mindful Self-Compassion

About Compassion

Becoming well and maintaining wellness requires the development of new habits. It is not just a matter of removing a 'pathology' or of cocooning one self in warm support. Compassion approaches used by John in Compassion Focussed Therapy (CFT) involves developing wisdom (understanding the the tricky nature of the brain) and courage. The motive for compassion is to address suffering, being sensitive to suffering and turning towards it, not away from it. Second, we need to respond wisely otherwise we can make things worse. When we move towards suffering and take steps to address it, we need the key qualities of wisdom and courage. Wisdom is developed through understanding the tricky nature of the brain.

These qualities are at the centre of compassion and Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT). Secondly, neither therapy nor mindfulness is about feeling 'good' or leaving every session feeling 'relaxed' or 'good'. The first psychology of compassion involves engaging with distress. This may not be easy. It consists of noticing, tolerating, turning towards and engaging with distress.  If we use other methods, such as turning away (for example, by being busy all the time ) or blocking our pain and suffering, or using food, sex or drugs to block or deny it, emotional pain will get stronger.  CFT is a no fault psychology.

Compassion is not one thing; it is very much linked to contexts. People can be good at one aspect but not another. For example, if you are a firefighter or COVID worker, wise courage is essential if you are to pursue your intention to save people from dying. But the counsellor working with the bereaved relatives of those who have died will need different competencies and skills and these may not be not interchangeable. The same is true in psychotherapy. Clients with different problems may need different types of courage and wisdom, too. This can be trickyat times to identify, especially when the referring agent has not been clear with your life issues, and diagnosis.

About Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC)

The 8-week Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) program is a journey of discovering how styles of relating to ourselves contribute directly to the experience of stress and harshness towards out own self. The program builds skills to interact with greater understanding, warmth and compassion; retraining the brain, and opening a door to greater freedom, ease, and peace in life. Mindful Self Compassion is an empirically-supported program designed by Kristin Neff  & Chris Germer, teaching principles and practices that enable participants to respond to difficult emotions with understanding and kindness. 

Mindful Self-Compassion involves balanced mindful awareness, a sense of common humanity, and self-kindness.  Participants gain skills to:

  • – practice self-compassion in daily life
  • – motivate themselves with kindness rather than criticism rather than kindness
  • – handle difficult emotions with greater ease to live life more mindfully
  • – manage “compassion fatigue”
  • – ideal for care givers and health professionals

Mindfulness Awareness

Mindfulness enables us to notice in the moment when we are experiencing emotional or physical discomfort, or pain. It is the courageous practice of learning to simply be with that experience just as it is without trying to avoid, change or judge it. When we observe from this perspective, a choice in how we might respond becomes available to us. A more common scenario is over-identification with our experience (getting lost in our story) or completely alienating ourselves from our experience (denying its existence). Mindfulness has us simply there with ourselves, experiencing life just as it is as it unfolds. To develop mindfulness, John often used the MiCBT program as this was developed with one to one work in mind.

Common Humanity

Self-Compassion reminds us that we are not alone. All human beings, all creatures on this earth experience pain in similar ways to us. Our shared emotional pain is an inevitable, common, human experience. Rather than judging ourselves and a experiencing a sense of isolation, remembering we are not alone, returns us to the reality that we are part of humanity bringing feelings of connection; a powerful antidote the sense of isolation.


Once we have learned to be with our experience, we can then have a relationship with it. And developing a caring relationship with our experience of ourselves is part of self-compassion practice. It is possible to be mindful but  not compassionate or kind towards ourselves. Compassion is an added component to awareness, an inclination of the heart toward our experience and ourselves. Compassion doesn’t question or blame us in the midst of our difficult experience; it joins with us and includes us in the way a parent might be drawn toward a child who is in pain, not in order to judge, but to soothe and comfort.

Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) is a ‘next generation’ program to assist people in life.  People from all walks of life benefit from the program.  It assists health care professionals both personally and professionally, giving them many more skills to use in one-to-one situations and professional supervision by video-conference can also be provided at a reasonable fee to anchor these skills if need be.

Strong evidence for connection between self-compassion and emotional well-being has now been found in many areas of life and work.

Over the past few years, mindfulness has become mainstream in the general population and is being increasingly integrated into professional practice (e.g. mental health, medical care, education, business, law). As the demand grows, the demand for quality professional training in these practices and techniques is growing each year.  Self-compassion is a “trending health term” (Reader’s Digest, 2012) and an area of burgeoning research that is following in the wake of mindfulness.  However, misunderstandings about self-compassion abound, such as conceptual confusion with self-esteem, self-indulgence, and existing notions of self-care.  Despite impressive scientific evidence for the connection between self-compassion and emotional well-being, explicit training in the skill of self-compassion is still relatively rare.

Target Audience

This program is suited to the general public, as well professionals who wish to integrate self-compassion into their work with clients. Meditation experience is not necessary to participate in this MSC program. All are welcome!

Copyright Thinking Healthy - John Julian