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Kristin Neff
Kristin Neff got her Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley in 1997 in the field of moral development. She then spent two years of post-doctoral study in the field of self-concept development at Denver University. Her current position is in the Human Development and Culture Program, Dept. of Educational Psychology, at the University of Texas at Austin. She started at UT in 1999 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2006.

During Kristin’s last year of graduate school in 1997 she became interested in Buddhism, and has been practicing meditation in the Insight Meditation tradition ever since. While doing her post-doctoral work she decided to conduct research on self-compassion – a central construct in Buddhist psychology and one that had not yet been examined empirically. The scale she created to measure self-compassion was published in 2003 and is now being used by hundreds of researchers worldwide. (You can test your self-compassion level at

In addition to her pioneering research into self-compassion, she has developed an 8-week program to teach self-compassion skills. The program, co-created with her colleague Chris Germer at Harvard University, is called Mindful Self-Compassion. She has a new book titled "Self-Compassion" that will be published by William Morrow on April 19, 2011.

Kristin lives in the countryside in Elgin, Texas with her husband Rupert Isaacson – an author and human rights activist – and with her young son Rowan. She and her family were recently featured in the documentary and book called The Horse Boy (

Blog Entries by Kristin Neff

Embracing Our Common Humanity With Self-Compassion

(5) Comments | Posted September 20, 2012 | 12:30 AM

One of the most important elements of self-compassion is the recognition of our shared humanity. Compassion is, by definition, relational. Compassion literally means "to suffer with," which implies a basic mutuality in the experience of suffering. The emotion of compassion springs from the recognition that the human experience is imperfect,...

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Self-Appreciation: The Flip Side of Self-Compassion

(1) Comments | Posted August 15, 2012 | 12:45 PM

Sometimes it's more difficult to see what's right about ourselves than what's wrong. For some of us even thinking about our positive traits makes us uncomfortable. Praise and compliments can make us squirm, and we often don't know how to respond without self-consciousness. Flattery feels a lot better than insults,...

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Does Self-Compassion Mean Letting Yourself Off the Hook?

(1) Comments | Posted July 3, 2012 | 11:00 AM

A common stumbling block when thinking about self-compassion is the belief that it just means letting ourselves off the hook. When we say "it's only human," isn't this just a way to blow off personal responsibility for our actions? But let's look at this more closely. First of all, isn't...

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Why We Need to Have Compassion for Our Inner Critic

(3) Comments | Posted June 10, 2012 | 9:50 AM

We know how much it hurts. "I'm an idiot!" "I'm disgusting." "No one will ever love me." "What a lame-ass."

So why do we do it? As soon as we ask ourselves this question, we often just pile on more self-criticism. "I'm such a bitch, even to myself." "That's why...

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Why Caregivers Need Self-Compassion

(1) Comments | Posted May 23, 2012 | 2:58 PM

Many of us are caregivers, whether we have a special-needs child, a parent with Alzheimer's, an ill partner, or are in a caregiving profession such as being a nurse, therapist, or teacher. When the stress of continually being there for others is high, we can become overwhelmed by our caregiving...

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The Chemicals of Care: How Self-Compassion Manifests in Our Bodies

(2) Comments | Posted June 27, 2011 | 8:19 AM

In my work I have defined self-compassion as having three main interacting components: self-kindness, a sense of common humanity and mindfulness. Self-kindness refers to the tendency to be caring and understanding with oneself rather than being harshly critical or judgmental. Instead of taking a cold "stiff-upper-lip" approach in times of...

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The Motivational Power of Self-Compassion

(16) Comments | Posted May 29, 2011 | 11:17 AM

The number-one reason people give for why they aren't more self-compassionate is the fear that they will be too easy on themselves. Without constant self-criticism to spur myself on, people worry, won't I just skip work, eat three tubs of ice cream and watch Oprah reruns all day? In others...

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Self-Compassion: Treating Yourself As You'd Treat a Good Friend

(16) Comments | Posted April 25, 2011 | 9:04 AM

The golden rule tells us that we should treat others as we would want them to treat us. Maybe so, but hopefully we won't treat them even half as badly as we treat ourselves.

"You're so lame!"

"What a screw-up!"

"How can you ever show your face in public again!"

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Why We Should Stop Chasing Self-Esteem and Start Developing Self-Compassion

(82) Comments | Posted April 6, 2011 | 8:59 AM

It has almost become a truism in our culture that we need to have high self-esteem in order to be happy and healthy. Psychologists have conducted thousands of studies touting the benefits of self-esteem. Teachers are encouraged to give all their students gold stars so that each one can feel...

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