Action for Happiness

By Safia Minney & Kevin Boon


I’ve been drawn to positive psychology and mindfulness and the amazing work of Action For Happiness and enjoyed learning about Self-Compassion tips from Kristin, one of the great leaders in the field on a recent webinar. You can sign up to more of their amazing events here.

Shock, horror – it’s not just me, we are often not very kind to ourselves. 

We are really mean to ourselves. In 75% of cases, we use unkind and highly critical inner dialogue with ourselves, when we mostly know how to be encouraging and kind to a close friend if they were feeling down or insecure. In a few minutes of reflective practice, Kristin takes us into ourselves to recognise how we often verbally beat ourselves up with self-criticism.

Why are we so hard on ourselves? If suffering is part of the human condition, why do we relate to ourselves in such a hard way? When we feel our perceived structures are threatened, that we are losing control, we feel frightened and we resist what is happening, rather than coming to terms with it through encouragement and expressing loving kindness to ourselves. 

Kristin outlines three components for Self-Compassion

1. Mindfulness

This is the foundation of Self-Compassion. It means being more accepting and less reactive. It means being less judgmental and less aggressive. Empathise with yourself by telling yourself that this is a tough time. Acknowledge that suffering is present. It’s normal, natural if you’re struggling and it’s part of being human. It’s not just you, it’s part of the human state. Create a narrative that you want to be kind to yourself in your self talk.

2. Kindness

Treat yourself with kindness. This means being supportive to yourself as you would be with a close friend. Think of an issue that is worrying you and imagine the warm and encouraging language. Tell yourself that this is only temporary. And ask yourself: Do I really want to treat myself that way?

3. Connecting with others

Recognising that you are not alone in your suffering will help you avoid getting stuck in self-pity and seeing things personally. An inevitable part of life is suffering and this is an impetus to grow and connect with others more deeply through vulnerability. This is part of life. You’re not alone. Recognise that everyone is imperfect and that we are all in this together.

Kristin went on to talk about the balance between Yin and Yang energy. The Yin ‘healing’ energy, typically considered more “feminine”, which is accepting of ourselves and self- soothing. The Yang energy is more aggressive and pressuring of the self.  She explains: ‘We need both energies to stand up for ourselves as part of Self-Compassion and saying ‘No, that’s not OK. Acknowledging that we are part of systemic racism and what that system perpetuates helps us to take action and stand up for justice without demonising the perpetrator’.

I’ll be putting my hand to my neck and chest when I feel a bit wobbly in the future too. Lots of very helpful practical tips to help internalise more supportive behaviour and be kind to ourselves. A huge thank you to Kristin and The Action For Happiness team for their work.

 See video webinar below.