Kristin Neff

Get to know Kristin Neff

Who is Kristin Neff?

An associate professor of educational psychology, Kristin Neff is a leading proponent of the concept of self-compassion. She is regarded as one of the first academics in the world to research the long-term benefits associated with the practice. After gaining her doctorate from the University of California, where she studied moral development, Neff went on to conduct her post-doctoral thesis at the University of Denver where she focussed on self-concept development. While studying, Neff began to take more of an interest in Buddhism, which has shaped many of her insights into psychology. Neff has used meditation techniques throughout her life. Specifically, she espouses the Insight Meditation tradition as one that has worked for her.

 What is self-compassion, according to Kristin Neff?

Kristin Neff discovered the concept of self-compassion through her studies of Buddhism. As a psychologist, she realised that very little empirical or scientific work had been conducted into it, something she aimed to put right. Essentially, Neff views self-compassion as a very similar idea to the compassion people show for each other and all living things. According to her concept, the idea is simply about extending that sense of compassionate through to oneself. She distinguishes self-compassion from self-pity and argues that understanding your own situation compassionately allows you to see yourself as a part of the wider human experience. Neff also distinguishes self-compassion from both self-esteem and self-indulgence.

What does Kristin Neff say about self-esteem?

According to the books, Kristin Neff has written, self-esteem and self-compassion are sometimes confused concepts. She argues that they are similar, but it is helpful to see one as distinct from the other. For Neff, self-esteem is bound up with how worthy people see themselves as being. She says that low self-esteem is problematic and is often linked to disorders like depression. However, she also says that overly high self-esteem is similarly problematic because, especially in Western culture, it can lead to self-absorption. Part of the answer, according to Neff, is to focus more on achieving balance through self-compassion practices.

Which practices does Kristin Neff espouse?

Focussing on self-compassion can be done in many ways. One method that Kristin Neff has written about is taking a break. This might also involve some meditation and what is known as 'affectionate breathing' to help you focus on being compassionate to yourself more fully. Accepting pain or discomfort through mindfulness is also a good idea since it means embracing ourselves in a caring manner, according to her.

How can you find out more about Kristin Neff and self-compassion?

Kristin Neff is in demand as a public speaker, and she frequently lectures on self-compassion and other subjects. She has contributed to TED Talks before and her video lectures can be found online easily. Her publication, 'The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook' is another excellent resource to look into.

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