Kristin Neff: Self-Compassion and Psychological Well-being
Friday, December 6, 2013
University of Washington
Kane Hall Room 220
For many years self-esteem was seen to be the key to psychological health. More recently, however, researchers have identified several downsides to the pursuit of self-esteem such as narcissism, ego-defensiveness, social comparisons, and the contingency and instability of self-worth. Research suggests that self-compassion is a healthier way of relating to oneself, offering the benefits of self-esteem without its downsides. Self-compassion involves treating ourselves kindly, like we would a close friend we cared about. Rather than making global evaluations of ourselves as “good” or “bad,” self-compassion involves generating kindness toward ourselves as imperfect humans, and learning to be present with the inevitable struggles of life with greater ease. It motivates us to make needed changes in our lives not because we’re worthless or inadequate, but because we care about ourselves and want to lessen our suffering.
This talk will present theory and research on self-compassion, which a burgeoning empirical literature has shown to be powerfully associated with psychological wellbeing. It will distinguish self-compassion from self-esteem, self-pity, and self-indulgence, and also discuss research indicating that self-compassion is a more powerful and effective motivational tool than self-criticism. Data from a randomized controlled trial will also be presented on the Mindful Self-Compassion program, an eight-week course developed in conjunction with Chris Germer that is designed to teach self-compassion skills.
About Kristin Neff
Kristin Neff, PhD, received her doctorate in Human Development from the University of California at Berkeley in 1997. She is currently an Associate Professor of Human Development and Culture at the University of Texas at Austin. She is a pioneer in the field of self-compassion research, conducting the first empirical studies on self-compassion over a decade ago. In addition to writing numerous academic articles on the topic, she is author of the book "Self-Compassion," released by William Morrow in 2011. Kristin’s work has received extensive media coverage, including the New York Times, MSNBC, National Public Radio, Reader’s Digest, and Psychology Today. She offers workshops on self-compassion worldwide, and has developed an eight-week program to help people learn to be more self-compassionate in daily life. Information on self-compassion - including videos, guided meditations, exercises, research articles, and a way to test your own self-compassion level – is available at www.self-compassion.org. Kristin is also featured in the bestselling book and award-winning documentary The Horse Boy (www.horseboyworld.com), which chronicles her family’s journey to Mongolia where they trekked on horseback to find healing for her autistic son.