Mindful Self-Compassion UK

MSC Explained

What is Mindful Self-Compassion?

Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) combines the skills of mindfulness and self-compassion to enhance our capacity for emotional wellbeing. Self-compassion provides emotional strength and resilience, allowing us to admit our shortcomings, forgive ourselves, and respond to ourselves and others with care and respect.

The three key components of self-compassion are:

  • Mindfulness
  • Common Humanity
  • Self-Kindness

Self-compassion is the emotional attitude of bringing kindness to ourselves when things go wrong in our lives. We often automatically treat friends and loved ones with warmth, tenderness and kindness when they struggle, fall short or fail at times in their lives. However we can have a much harder time bringing those same qualities of compassion to our ourselves in similar situations. A key question MSC helps us to ask ourselves is “What do I need?” By recognising what’s here (mindfulness), that difficulty is part of every human life (common humanity), and connecting with our natural capacity for care (self-kindness), we can develop healthy and enduring patterns of relating to all the circumstances of life.

Self-compassion can be learned by anyone, even those of us who didn’t receive enough affection in childhood or who feel uncomfortable when we are good to ourselves. It’s a courageous attitude that stands up to harm, including the harm that we unwittingly inflict on ourselves through self-criticism, self-isolation, or self-absorption. Self-compassion provides emotional strength and resilience, allowing us to admit our shortcomings, motivate ourselves with kindness, forgive ourselves when needed, relate wholeheartedly to others, and be more authentically ourselves.

Does all this sound too good to be true?

It’s not unusual for people to have reservations or misgivings about self-compassion. For example at first glance it may sound like a form of self-pity, that it’s weak, selfish, self-indulgent, is a form of making excuses and may well undermine motivation.

The wonderful news is there’s robust and growing research which evidences quite the opposite – in fact self-compassionate people are less likely to get caught up with thinking about how bad things are, are better able to cope with life challenges such as divorce, illness or pain, and more rather than less caring in their relationships with others and are more able to collaborate and compromise.

They also engage in healthier behaviours such as exercise, eating well and drinking less alcohol and they take greater personal responsibility for their actions. And motivating with self-compassion rather than the usual self-criticism is proven to result in constructive and lasting changes that previously seemed out of reach.

"Feeling compassion for ourselves in no way releases us from responsibility for our actions. Rather, it releases us from the self-hatred that prevents us from responding to our life with clarity and balance."

What to expect

Whether you are attending the course over 8 weekly sessions or a 5 day intensive programme, activities include:

  • meditation
  • short talks
  • experiential exercises
  • group discussion
  • audio recordings for your own use

MSC is primarily a compassion training programme rather than a mindfulness training like Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), although mindfulness is the foundation of self-compassion.

MSC is also not psychotherapy insofar as the emphasis of MSC is on building emotional resources rather than addressing old wounds. Positive change occurs naturally as we develop the capacity to be with ourselves in a kinder, more compassionate way. The intention is for participants to directly experience self-compassion and learn practices that evoke this in daily life.