The Science of Self-Compassion

Psychology Department

The LINK Lab is hosting Kristen Neff of UT Austin (Educational Psychology) on Thursday, December 3rd. She will give a public talk at noon in ERB 228.

Please email me if you are interested in attending the talk!


For many years self-esteem was seen to be the key to psychological health.

More recently, however, researchers have identified several downsides to the pursuit of self-esteem such as narcissism, ego-defensiveness, social comparisons, and the contingency and instability of self-worth. Research suggests that self-compassion is a healthier way of relating to oneself, offering the benefits of self-esteem without its downsides. Self-compassion involves treating ourselves kindly like we would a close friend we cared about. Rather than making global evaluations of ourselves as “good” or “bad,” self-compassion involves generating kindness toward ourselves as imperfect humans and learning to be present with the inevitable struggles of life with greater ease. It motivates us to make needed changes in our lives not because we’re worthless or inadequate, but because we care about ourselves and want to lessen our suffering. This talk will present theory and research on self-compassion, which a burgeoning empirical literature has shown to be powerfully associated with psychological well-being.

It will distinguish self-compassion from self-esteem, and discuss research indicating that self-compassion is a more powerful and effective motivational tool than self-criticism.  A brief self-compassion practice will also be taught that can be used in daily life.


Catherine Spann
Graduate Research Assistant
The University of Texas at Arlington