Thursday, November 4, 2010

Self-Compassion 2: Using Neff's Self-Compassion Scale

It is a common saying that "practice makes perfect." The tough thing about it is that it's true! In fact, there are many indications from psychological studies that it is best to 'over-learn' skills – learning it well enough to do once is not enough to do it well or even do it again. This may be especially true of skills we need to use in difficult, stressful situations. So no matter how committed we are to healthy communication and dealing with conflict and stress constructively, it's likely we are not as good at it as we'd like to be.

Because this is generally true, there is a very important set of attitudes and skills to take with us into our practice of handling stress and conflict: self-forgiveness and self-compassion. Because we do not become experts overnight, we should anticipate making mistakes and prepare for it. The self-compassion scale by Kristin Neff can help us create awareness around practicing these skills.

You can access the scale HERE.
Note: The scale allows you to get a snapshot of your self-compassion. For each category, the higher the mean is, the more you demonstrate a tendency toward that trait. Remember that this scale is not meant to establish a standard for you to live up to, for that would just generate less self-compassion. Rather, the scale is intended to help you build awareness around how you react to difficult circumstances. Your awareness then brings opportunity for transformation.
After completing the scale, REFLECT on the results of your self-compassion level.

• Was there anything surprising, confusing or that you disagree with?

• How do you think your self-compassion level affects your experience of stress and conflict?

• Where are your strong points?

• Where do you have the most room to grow?

• Look again at your strengths. Make a list of the your thoughts and activities that you use to do this well.

• How can you build on these strengths to increase your self-compassion?

Understanding the Scale.

Now that you've explored your initial reactions to the scale, spend some time exploring the meanings of these categories. The goal is that these categories can become helpful, mindful descriptions (NOT destructive labels).

If you find this exercise difficult, or you want to have more material for reflection, you can read Kristin Neff's descriptions of these elements HERE.