A few minutes could change your life—or at least, your mindset.
Meditations for self-compassion can help bring awareness, calm and confidence.
In this guide, we’re showing you the best meditations for self-compassion and self-confidence building.
What Is Self-Compassion?
Self-compassion simply means having compassion for yourself. Imagine extending the compassion you have for others to yourself. When your friend is going through a rough situation, compassion may look like:
- Noticing the suffering
- Understanding their pain
- Feel care towards the person
Similarly, self-compassion also means:
- Noticing your suffering
- Understanding your pain
- Feeling care toward yourself
Instead of judging yourself and criticizing your downfalls, you respond to yourself with grace, gentleness and kindness.
For example, you might think, “I’m a stupid loser for failing my test.” Self-compassion urges you to switch that thought to something understanding and kind like, “Everyone fails sometimes and it’s a really difficult experience for me too. How can I care for myself in this moment?
Self-compassion also requires you to see the common humanity in the situation. In the example above that means knowing that failure, while personal, is a very common human experience. It also means that you accept the reality that’s happened—even if you don’t like it. You accept that everyone will experience disappointment, frustrations and setbacks.
You may think that criticizing yourself makes you stronger but research proves it actually makes you weaker. Adopting self-compassion is a way to strengthen yourself through adversity. Studies shows that self-compassion reduced negative self-talk and activates a calm state of mind.
Self-criticism usually comes easier than self-compassion. That’s why we need to work toward having a mind that naturally thinks compassionate thoughts. The best way to ingrain this response is to use practices, like meditation for self-compassion.
The concept of self-compassion was created by professor Dr. Kristin Neff. She wrote the book Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, an important read for those interested in improving their mindset. Watch Dr. Neff talk about what self-compassion is below.
To understand what self-compassion is, let’s look at a few self-talk examples below.
SELF-CRITISISM: “I’m stupid.”
SELF-COMPASSION: “Everyone has moments where they fumble. I will continue to improve but first I need to take a moment to center myself.”
SELF-CRITISISM: “I look ugly today.”
SELF-COMPASSION: “Everyone has days where they feel bad about their appearance. It’s tough to deal with.”
SELF-CRITISISM: “I suck at my job.”
SELF-COMPASSION: “There will be challenging day but those don’t define me or my job performance
SELF-CRITISISM: “I left so many things on my to-do list today.”
SELF-COMPASSION: “I can only do my best. I’m only person. What I really need is a moment to relax.”
SELF-CRITISISM: “I never stick to my workout routine. I’m lazy and it won’t change.”
SELF-COMPASSION: “I will get better at sticking to my workout routine. Most people have trouble sticking to new routines at first. I’ll continue trying my best. And it will get easier once I’ve established a routine.”
The best way to harness self-compassion is to make it a practice. Over time, this will train your brain to respond more kindly. Self-compassion exercises should be practiced regularly and especially when you’re in the midst of negative self-talk.
Journal Compassionate Response Pretending You’re a Friend
Imagine your friend is going through the same situation you are. How would you respond? What would you say to help their suffering? Journal about your response. After, use these same responses to respond to yourself.
3 Step Self Compassion Break
When you’re in the midst of negative self-talk, use this self-compassion exercise. Take a break using these 3 steps below.
- Be mindful about the suffering without minimizing it. Recognize it hurts or is stressful.
- Remind yourself everyone suffers. Know that other people feel this way and everyone suffers at some points in life.
- Be kind to yourself. Ask yourself what you can do to ease your criticism and move into a space of self-compassion. This could mean forgiving yourself, giving yourself a moment to relax, reminding yourself it will get better, etc.
Self-Criticism Check-In for Self-Talk
The first step to developing self-compassion is usually acknowledging when you’re being critical of yourself. Out of all the self-compassion exercises, this one can be easily done several times daily to increase awareness. If you’re used to your negative self-talk, this can be challenging to recognize. Take breaks throughout the day to ask yourself, “what negative thoughts have I had about myself in the past hour?” For each self-criticism you can recall, try replacing it with something positive (see examples in the previous section for ideas). Using this practice will make identifying critical thoughts automatic over time.
Physically Self-Soothing for Self-Compassion
Self-compassion exercises can also be physical. When you’re in a moment of self-criticism, think about ways you can physically soothe yourself. For example, let’s say you made a mistake at work and you’re stressed about it. Rather than going down the rabbit hole of criticism, you could gently stroke your arm to soothe yourself. Dr. Neff calls this “supportive touch.” Examples include:
- Gently stroking your arm
- Cradling your face with your hands
- Massaging your neck
- Massaging tense jaw bones
- Placing your hand over your heart
Meditation for Self Compassion
One of the best self-compassion exercises is finding a good meditation for self-compassion. This can help quiet your mind and redirect you to better thoughts. In the next section, we’ll explore the best meditations for self compassion
Meditation for Self-Compassion: 11 Guided Audios
Meditation for self compassion is a great tool to gain awareness of your self-criticism and turn it around. They provide a gentle way to work on your mindset and train your brain for different thought patterns. If you’re looking for a meditation for self compassion, we recommend trying a few. Some guided audios and voices may work better for you than others. Find what resonates with you.
Meditation for Self Compassion – 7 Minutes
This 7-minute meditation for self compassion is created by AboutKids Health. It’s a simple and quick meditation that’s perfect for both kids and adults. Especially if you’ve never meditated before, this audio is great for beginners. It guides you through breathing and recognising your emotions while accepting them.
Meditation with Tara Brach: Developing Self-Compassion- 18 Minutes
This meditation for self compassion is led by Dr. Tara Brach. You’re first led to envision someone you love, like a parent or pet. You’re guided to viscerally feel the love and kindness you hold for them. With phrases like, “may you be happy and free from suffering,” you wish this person well. You’re then guided to turn that same love inward, feeling a sense of compassion and kindness toward yourself. Sometimes, by envisioning the love we have for someone else first, we can hold onto that feeling and direct it toward ourselves.
Guided Mediation for Self Compassion – 5 Minutes
This meditation for self compassion is a great one to do if you’re currently suffering and need to offer love to yourself. The narrator guides you to first recognize that you’re in a moment of suffering. It reminds you that stress or hurt is a common feeling that makes you part of humanity. It then guides you to ask yourself, “what do i need right now?” The answer to that may be a kind message like, “May I accept myself as I am” or “May I forgive myself.”
RAIN Mediation for Self Compassion by Tara Brach – 11 Minutes
This meditation for self compassion is another led by Dr. Tara Brach. In this one, she uses the RAIN acronym to help guide you to a place of self compassion. You’re first led to “recognize” your feeling and name it. For example, maybe you’re suffering from stress from a mistake you made. The next step is “allow”–allowing you to experience your emotion and making it okay to feel. Next, she leads you to “investigate” that feeling and experience. Lastly, she guides you to “nurture” yourself by asking yourself what you need to hear in this moment.
Self Compassion Loving Kindness Meditation by Kristin Neff – 21 Minutes
This meditation for self compassion is by the researcher who coined the term “self-compassion,” Dr. Neff. You begin by taking a few deep breaths and going through self-compassion phrases, such as “May I be at peace.” She directs you to call to mind someone supportive in your life. After feeling those loving, kind feels toward them, she guides you to turn that energy inwards. After that, you extend the compassionate energy toward your community and the world.
Guided Meditation for Self-Compassion and Loving Kindness – 10 Minutes
This meditation by Dr. KJ Foster first guides you to notice how you’re feeling and accept it. Then she leads you to envision someone you love and imagine that they also have good days and bad ones. Like you, they also suffer and struggle, even if you don’t know it. After sending them loving phrases, you check in again on how you’re feeling. Once you’ve connected with the compassionate energy and phrases, you may be better able to apply it to yourself.
Guided Sleep Meditation for Self Compassion and Self Love – 3 Hours
This meditation for self compassion is ideal to play before going to bed Since it’s 3 hours long, it’s perfect for those who have trouble sleeping and need something to doze off to. This guided meditation shares self-love affirmations like “I accept my struggles with warmth and ease.” After listening to these positive phrases, you can continue breathing into the moment listening to the calming music, drifting off to sleep.
Meditation: From Self Judgment to Self Compassion – 10 Minutes
In this meditation for self compassion, Robert Stock guides you to gain awareness of your thoughts. He walks you through accepting your emotions. Unlike other meditations for self compassion, this one focuses less on breathing and affirmations. Instead, it’s more of a realistic talk that opens you up to the idea of being kind to yourself. If you’re intimidated by the idea of self compassion or find it cheesy, this is a great beginner meditation to start with.
ASMR Guided Meditation for Self Compassion – 35 Minutes
This meditation for self compassion is perfect for those who also love ASMR. The narrator whispers the meditation instructions and holds a calming space for you to explore self compassion. After taking a few long, deep breaths, she guides you to become aware of your body, easing into full relaxation. She suggests to invite the hidden fragments of yourself to the meditation. These may be difficult parts or the shadow side. She guides you to offer these parts of yourself love, compassion and acceptance.
Body Scan Meditation for Self Compassion – 15 Minutes
This meditation for self compassion is a great one to try if you’re experiencing body pain. It begins by becoming aware of your body. From the top down, you’re guided to become aware of each body part and have gratitude for it. You’re invited to breathe soothing energy into each body part, paying special attention to the ones that bother you most.
Summary: Meditation for Self Compassion
Self compassion is a way of thinking that helps quiet critical thoughts. In the long-run self-compassion strengthens you and helps you gain resilience through hardships. To make this mental shift, self compassion exercises and meditation for self compassion is key. Keep in mind that everyone reacts differently to varying meditations. You may dislike most audios but finally find one that changes everything. For this reason, we recommend trying at least a few of the meditations for self compassion in this post. When you find one you like, stick with it.