Sharon Salzberg – Metta Hour – Ep. 159 – Kristin Neff

For episode 158 Kristin Neff returns to the Metta Hour to talk about her new book, Fierce Self-Compassion: How Women Can Harness Kindness to Speak Up, Claim Their Power, and Thrive.

For episode 158 Kristin Neff returns to the Metta Hour to talk about her new book, Fierce Self-Compassion: How Women Can Harness Kindness to Speak Up, Claim Their Power, and Thrive.

Kristin is a pioneer in the field of self-compassion research, conducting the first empirical studies on self-compassion almost twenty years ago. Kristin is the author of the book Self-Compassion and is currently an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. In conjunction with her colleague Dr. Chris Germer, she has developed an empirically supported training program called Mindful Self-Compassion, which is taught by thousands of teachers worldwide. Her newest work focuses on how to balance self-acceptance with the courage to make needed change.

The conversation begins with Kristin defining self-compassion and how that compares to self-pity and self-esteem. They discuss the differences between compassion, shame, and self-criticism as means to grow or face adversity, as well as compassion through the lens of the Buddhist teachings, the Brahma Viharas. Sharon teaches about the near and far enemies of compassion and what states compassion can masquerade as when we are out of balance. Kristin speaks about what inspired her new book to focus on those who are socially conditioned as women and the difficulties women face in claiming their power due to socialization. Kristin closes the conversation with a guided meditation on balancing fierce and tender energies.

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Compassion Turned Inward

Sharon and Kristin clear up the differences between self-compassion and self-esteem, self-care, and self-pity. They discuss self-criticism and shame, and how self-compassion offers the motivation of care, not fear. Kristin talks about how self-compassion is showing ourselves the same compassion we’d naturally offer to a friend or loved one.

“Self-compassion allows us to be more focused on how we can learn and grow from failure, as opposed to just shaming ourselves for it.” – Kristin Neff

Fierce Self-Compassion (14:11)

Sharon asks Kristin about her new book, Fierce Self-Compassion, and what drew her to focus on women and gender role socialization. They explore how the qualities of self-compassion can be both gentle and fierce, and how an appropriate balance needs to be struck, especially when it comes to social justice movements. Kristin talks about how drawing boundaries is an essential part of self-compassion. 

“I started to see how, for a lot of women, they had a hard time getting angry or speaking up because of their gender role socialization. As women, we’re taught we should be tender but not fierce.” – Kristin Neff

RamDev offers a self-compassion practice on Healing at the Edge. Ep. 26
A New Perspective (36:15)

Sharon and Kristin discuss the role of self-compassion in bringing about a new perspective. They talk about Kristin’s most current research projects, and how she’s shifting more of her energy into the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion. Kristin ends the show with a guided meditation focused on balancing the energies of fierceness and tenderness in our bodies.

“One of the reasons self-compassion is so helpful is because it almost automatically gives you perspective. We’re used to being compassionate to others, and to be compassionate to ourselves we kind of have to adopt a new perspective, we have to step outside of ourselves and see ourselves as if we were another.” – Kristin Neff