top of page

Practicing Self-Compassion As a Therapy for Pain Management

Updated: Jun 6

Too often, we can be our own worst critic when we deal with chronic emotional or physical pain. 

We would never even imagine talking to a friend, the way we talk to ourselves when we're feeling discomfort. If you struggle with a harsh inner critic, learning self-compassion could greatly improve your overall well-being. Research shows how we relate to and treat ourselves as we go through painful and difficult challenges directly impacts the severity of our own suffering.

How Self-Compassion Works to Reduce Pain

Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) therapy combines mindfulness and self-compassion to foster a compassionate and understanding attitude towards oneself. By cultivating self-compassion, individuals learn to respond to their pain with kindness and understanding, rather than self-criticism or blame. As individuals learn to develop a non-reactive stance towards their pain, it allows them to observe their experiences without becoming overwhelmed by them.

This can lead to a decrease in pain intensity and an increased ability to cope with pain-related challenges as their sense of inner strength and resiliency grows.

Here are the three steps of self-compassion I walk my clients through regularly:


1.  Mindfulness: Think of a time or situation in your life that is causing you stress or pain, and take time to notice any physical or emotional discomfort arise in your body. Now say to yourself, “This is a moment of suffering”, or ‘This hurts”.

2. Common Humanity: Acknowledging that suffering is a part of the human experience, try repeating to yourself phrases such as, “To suffer means I’m human”, “Other people feel this way too”, “I’m not alone”, or “we all struggle in life”.

3.  Self-Kindness: Place a hand on your heart or wrap yourself in a hug. Research shows that physical touch can release oxytocin in our body, which can improve our pain tolerance. As you offer this physical touch, focus on repeating phrases such as, “May I be kind to myself”, “May I give myself the compassion I need”, “May I learn to accept myself as I am”, or “May I forgive myself”.


Practiced regularly, this approach can lead to reduced suffering, improved pain management, increased emotional well-being, and enhanced resilience. Feel free to visit my page and reach out to me if you're interested in receiving therapeutic guidance for practicing self-compassion.

You may also wish to learn more about mindful self-compassion for pain management by exploring this guidebook:

The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook: A Proven Way to Accept Yourself, Build Inner Strength, and Thrive by Kristen Neff, PhD and Chris Germer, PhD.

39 views0 comments


bottom of page