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The History of Self-Compassion

Updated: Nov 27, 2020


SC is derived from the Buddhist conception of compassion. While Buddhism teaches that directing compassion inward must precede our ability to extend it toward others, Western culture primarily views compassion as an outward expression toward others.

In 2003, Dr. Kristen Neff set out to change this deficit in our people’s ability to comfort themselves in times of need. She created the psychological construct of Self-Compassion and began research and testing. In 2014, there were 150 published journal articles on self-compassion; By 2020 there were 2,500.

The overwhelming majority of research documents the power of using self-compassion to reduce negative feelings - stress, depression, and anxiety, and nurture positive ones - love, joy, and confidence. This is consistent with my research, which showed a strong correlation between self-compassion, positive body image, and exercise levels in middle-aged women.



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