How to Develop Fierce Self-Compassion With Bestselling Author Kristin Neff

Kristin Neff

Verywell / Julie Bang

Every Monday on The Verywell Mind Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Amy Morin, LCSW, interviews experts, authors, entrepreneurs, athletes, musicians, and other inspirational people about the strategies that help them think, feel, and do their best in life.

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Meet Kristin Neff

Kristin Neff is a pioneer in self-compassion research. She’s been studying self-compassion for more than 15 years. 

She’s the author of the bestselling book Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself and the co-creator of a training program called Mindful Self-Compassion.

She’s also an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.

She’s written a new book called Fierce Self-Compassion, in which she describes how to know when to practice tender self-compassion and when to practice fierce self-compassion. 

Why Kristin Neff Is Mentally Strong

Kristin talks about her own experiences with self-compassion. She shares the steps she’s taken to develop self-compassion over the years.

She makes it clear that she isn’t perfect. And she talks about the mistakes she has made and the lessons she has learned along the way. 

In her books, she describes the strategies and techniques she applies to her own life. And invites others to experiment with the strategies that work well for her.

What You’ll Hear on the Show

  • The difference between tender self-compassion and fierce self-compassion
  • Why women are socialized to practice tender self-compassion and men are taught to practice fierce self-compassion
  • Why you shouldn’t shame your inner critic or beat yourself up for being too hard on yourself
  • The emotional, social, and physical health benefits of self-compassion
  • How to start cultivating self-compassion
  • How to replace shame and blame with self-encouragement
  • How to use physical touch to calm yourself down
  • Why suppressing emotions doesn’t work
  • How to balance self-acceptance with self-improvement

What You’ll Learn About Mental Health and Mental Strength

The conversations you have with yourself greatly affect your mental health. Being overly critical of yourself can lead to mental health problems. And the more mental health problems you have, the less likely you are to talk to yourself kindly. 

It’s a cycle that can be tough to break.

Treating yourself with kindness helps you build mental strength. And in turn, it may improve your mental health.

But as Kristin says, you shouldn’t set out to develop self-compassion for the sole purpose of alleviating suffering. Instead, practice being kind to yourself because you’re worthy of kindness.

When you respond to unhelpful thoughts with a kinder inner dialogue, you begin to create positive change. It takes a conscious effort to change the way you think, but with practice, it gets easier to become kind to yourself.

Quotes From Kristin

Kristin Neff

There are people standing up and saying, ‘You will not harm me anymore. This is not okay. You can not treat me unjustly.’ That’s self-compassion.

— Kristin Neff
  • I realized that many people had a misconception about self-compassion. They thought it was only the tender, gentle, accepting side. 
  • Too much tenderness without fierceness is like complacency. But too much fierceness without enough tenderness is hostility.
  • We have to accept and change at the same time. We have to accept that this hurts right now and I'm going to do what I can to help myself in the future. 
  • What we know very clearly from the research is that if we deny negative emotions or we try to suppress them, it actually just makes them stronger.

More About the Podcast

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By Amy Morin, LCSW
Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.