A Focus on Self-Compassion During Canadian Psychology Month

Published by Beth Campbell Duke on

self-compassion is important to your psychological health

February is Canadian Psychology Month. It’s a good time to show ourselves some self-compassion.

Psychology Month is celebrated every February to highlight the contributions of Canadian psychologists and to show Canadians how psychology works to help – people live healthy and happy lives, their communities flourish, their employers create better workplaces, and their governments develop effective policies. ~Canadian Psychological Association

Our psychological health is important to our families and communities – but first and foremost it’s important to ourselves.

Even before COVID many of us managing complex and chronic illnesses were facing significant challenges to our psychological health and safety.

Some of us were very much struggling, because mental health supports aren’t accessible equally to Canadians without the financial means or private health insurance.

I think it’s important to acknowledge this before moving on.  While I find the self-compassion information helpful now, I didn’t always.

Self-help can be powerful but we aren’t all in a place where we can make use of the information. When something doesn’t resonate with you, then know that that’s OK.

Regardless of your situation, I hope this tool proves useful.

Self-Compassion During Psychology Month

Dr. Kristin Neff has written a book and done a TEDx talk on self-compassion. She explains self-compassion like this:

Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?  ~Dr. Kristin Neff

It’s different from self-esteem.  Self-compassion focusses more on how you speak to and treat yourself rather than how you feel about yourself.

This isn’t about letting yourself ‘off the hook’ or rationalizing poor behaviour, it’s about understanding yourself and being realistic in your response to your thoughts and behaviours.

If you've ever felt or been told you're your own worst critic, then you may be in need of some self-compassion. As February is 'Psychology Month', this just might be the time! Click To Tweet

Take The Self-Compassion Test

Here’s the link to Dr. Kristin Neff’s ‘Self-Compassion Test‘. There are 26 questions that you rate on a scale of 1-5 and then the assessment gives you a result straight away. It looks at 3 scales of self-compassion and then gives an overall score:

  1. Self-kindness <—-> Self-judgement (How kind or judgemental are you of yourself?)
  2. Common humanity <—-> Isolation (How connected do you feel to those around you?)
  3. Mindfulness <—-> Over-identification (How well can you identify feelings and let them go?)

How Can You Develop Self-Compassion?

If you want to go further, the website has a number of self-guided meditations as well as some self-compassion exercises. The exercises involve journalling, reframing self-talk, taking time to identify what we (really) want and taking care of the caregiver (you!). 

I have found that paying attention to my negative self-talk and consciously reframing it has been the tool I use most often. It has had positive impacts I would have previously been surprised at.

The trick is to pick one thing to do and put it into action regularly. Don’t overwhelm yourself – that’s the whole point of self-compassion.

One of the ways I do this is by stealing an idea from a Brene Brown audio and a caregiving conference I attended. I created a ‘permission slip’ to remind myself that it’s OK to have downtime and recharge. I have it posted by my recharging station and can read it every day when I plug in whatever I’m charging.

self-compassion permission slip

What have you done to recharge today? Do you have some go-to recharging activities to share with others?

Let us know in the comments below.

Beth Campbell Duke

Beth is a science educator and family caregiver for her husband, Tony, and her parents. She's busy developing programs and materials to help other patients and family caregivers navigate the healthcare system and tell their stories. Beth's biggest wish is to see the healthcare system incorporate 'trauma-informed care' into its workplaces to address the growing number of healthcare providers, patients and family caregivers experiencing primary and secondary trauma.


Bonnie · February 10, 2021 at 1:31 pm

This is a great perspective, Beth. With your situation, you have obviously had to take care of yourself in order to remain strong as the caregiver. It was important to distinguish self compassion from self esteem. Too different approaches, for sure. I also love the permission slip. It’s a great reminder. Thanks for sharing!

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