Who would benefit from MSC Training?
Almost every human in the United States could benefit from the perspectives and tools provided in the MSC Workshop. There are two reasons for this. First, we all share a common biology that kept us safe for 2.4 million years in the wild, but it tends to work against us in current society. In more specific terms, the following people and organizations would benefit from MSC Training:
o Health care staff
o Social Workers
o Therapists and Counselors
o Businesses & non-profits
o Clubs & Social groups
o Emergency Responders (Fire, Police, EMT, etc.)
o Individuals – adults and teens
What is MSC?
Having compassion for you is the same as having compassion for others. Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time. When we fail or notice something we don’t like about our self, we typically just try to ignore the pain or try to will it away. This is rarely effective, as you know from personal experience. Self-compassion allows you to stop and to tell yourself, “This is really difficult right now. How can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?”
There are three main parts of self-compassion:
What are the misperceptions of MSC?
Below are the five most common misgivings about self-compassion:
1. Self-compassion is wimpy or passive.
Self-Compassion can be powerful force for change when actively implemented. It is intentionally working with emotions instead of letting emotions dictate mechanical and routine reactions to yourself and everyday events. It takes hard work implement emotional control.
2. Self-compassion is the same as self-pity
Self-pity tends to emphasize egocentric feelings of separation from others and exaggerate the extent of personal suffering. Self-compassion, on the other hand, allows one to see the related experiences of self and other without these feelings of isolation and disconnection.
MSC recognizes that others have the same problem, that they have learned to live with it, and that experiencing it is not unusual. Also, self-pitying individuals often become carried away with and wrapped up in their own emotional drama. They cannot step back from their situation and adopt a more balanced or objective perspective. In contrast, by taking the perspective of a compassionate other towards oneself, “mental space” is provided to recognize the broader human context of one’s experience and to put things in greater perspective.
3. Self-compassion is self-indulgence
People may be reluctant to be self-compassionate because they’re afraid they would let themselves get away with anything. This, however, is self-indulgence rather than self-compassion. Being compassionate to yourself means that you want to be happy and healthy in the long term. In many cases, just giving oneself pleasure may harm well-being (such as taking drugs, over-eating, being a couch potato), while giving yourself health and lasting happiness often involves a certain amount of displeasure (such as quitting smoking, dieting, exercising).
4. Self-compassion is making excuses or complacent
People are often hard on themselves when they notice something they want to change about themselves They think they can shame themselves into action (self-flagellation), and think that perfection would be possible if they were just to try a teeny-weeny bit harder. However, this approach often backfires if you can’t face difficult truths about yourself because you are so afraid of hating yourself if you do it. Thus, weaknesses may remain unacknowledged in an unconscious attempt to avoid self-censure. In contrast, the care intrinsic to compassion provides a powerful motivating force for growth and change, while also providing the safety needed to see the self clearly without fear of self-condemnation. Self-compassion means that we understand the myriad causes and conditions that lead us to act as we do. Compassion acknowledges the truth that we are limited, imperfect beings who are impacted by things over which we have no control — our genes, early family history, culture, life circumstances etc..
Research indicates that in comparison to self-esteem, self-compassion is associated with greater emotional resilience, more accurate self-concepts, more caring relationship behavior, as well as less narcissism and reactive anger. Self-esteem refers to our sense of self-worth or how much we like ourselves. But trying to have higher self-esteem can also be problematic because it is often based on how much we are different from others, how much we stand out or are special. It is not okay to be average, and we need to feel above average to feel good about ourselves. Self-compassion is not based on self-evaluations. People feel compassion for themselves because all human beings deserve compassion and understanding, not because they possess some particular set of traits (pretty, smart, talented, and so on). This means that with self-compassion, you don’t have to feel better than others to feel good about yourself. Self-compassion also allows for greater self-clarity, because personal failings can be acknowledged with kindness and do not need to be hidden. Moreover, self-compassion isn’t dependent on external circumstances; it’s always available.
How is MSC Taught?
This workshop is an empirically supported training program designed to cultivate the skill of self-compassion. It teaches core principles and practices that enable participants to respond to difficult moments in their lives with kindness, care, and understanding.
The MSC Workshop is a training program designed to cultivate the skill of self-compassion by teaching principles and practices that are easy to learn and remember. Through creative, mindfulness-based exercises and discussions, participants develop present-moment-awareness and new ways of relating to stress and anxiety. These tools can then be directly applied in their daily lives. The Workshop includes 8 weekly evening sessions (3 hours), plus 1 additional weekend retreat (4 hours). Program activities include short talks, experiential exercises, small group discussions, guided meditations, and home practices. Workshop Goals include:
- How to stop being so hard on yourself
- How to handle difficult emotions with greater ease
- How to motivate yourself with encouragement rather than criticism
- How to transform challenging relationships, both old and new
- Learn mindfulness and self-compassion practices for daily life
- Understand the scientifically validated benefits of self-compassion
- Manage caregiver fatigue
- Learn the art of savoring, gratitude, and self-appreciation
- How to become your own best teacher
MSC can also be learned in a 5-day intensive retreat type format.
How is it different from what I have learned in my life experiences?
Few of us have had formal training in emotional resiliency. Emotions are an important part of who we are, but we spend many years training other parts of ourselves – mind, body, and spirit. But our emotional training comes from observations of others who practice the common approach to “just deal with it.” What this really means is that we are taught to push challenging emotions deep within ourselves with the hope that they will go away. The following table illustrates how we have learned to handle emotions, and how we might learn to handle them more skillfully. It also describes how MSC can benefit the other parts of ourselves (mind, body, spirit).
Two Different Perspectives
|Topic||What we learn by observation
|A self-compassionate response
(can be learned)
|Supporting others who are suffering||Be kind and understanding with soothing & supporting words||Be kind and understanding with soothing & supporting words|
|Support ourselves when suffering||Ignore pain or try to will it away.||Be kind and understanding with soothing & supporting words|
|Support ourselves when failing or viewing self as imperfect||Set a high bar for definition of success. Abuse ourselves with self-criticism||Give credit for trying something new. Adjust expectations of self. Kind & soothing support|
|Life doesn’t go exactly as planned or expected||Angry that life is not fair. Become a victim of circumstances as they actually are.||Understand bigger picture and overlapping cause & affect of all the moving parts of life. Recognize that these things happen to everybody, and it is not a personal attack.|
|Recognize suffering||Set a high bar for things considered suffering.||Recognize suffering no matter how small.|
|Basis of Self-worth||Self-Enhancement bias. Need to be above average when compared to others. Contingent on most recent actions.||Being Human with need for compassion and understanding. No contingencies. Intrinsic sense of self-worth.|
|Relationship to others||Self-absorbed. Putting others down. Angry at those who hurt us.||Recognize all going through this together. Being supportive. Non-reactive and resilient to external criticism.|
|Relationship to self||Angry at yourself for not being good enough||Recognize that perfect isn’t reasonable. Being supportive. Non-reactive and resilient to internal criticism.|
|Self-Realization||Mostly delusional where we hide, distort, or ignore personal shortcomings. Extreme emotional swings.||More awareness of personal strengths & weaknesses, and how to live with all of it. Limited emotional swings.|
|Personal Accountability||Less responsible for actions. Blame others. Don’t recognize growth opportunity. Feel shame (negative self-worth)||More responsible for actions. Do not feel like victim. Recognize need for action to reduce personal suffering. Feel Guilt (remorse with desire to amend)|
|Brain Function||Busy, distracted, limited, and mechanical||Still, focused, aware, and intentional|
|Body Function||Higher blood pressure, stress, health care issues & cost||Lower blood pressure, stress, health care issues & cost|
Where are MSC Courses being offered?
How do I find an MSC teacher in my area?
What research has been done for the effectiveness of Adult MSC?
Research shows that self-compassion is strongly associated with emotional well-being, including: less anxiety and stress, less depression, better maintenance of healthy habits, and more satisfying personal relationships. Research indicates that Self-compassion builds emotional resiliency. Extensive and detailed information is available on Dr. Kristin Neff’s website.
What research has been done for the effectiveness of Making Friends with Yourself (MFY)?
A preliminary research study on this program has demonstrated significant decreases in depression, anxiety, perceived stress and negative mood from before to after taking this course. Making Friends With Yourself has been adapted for teens from the adult Mindful Self-Compassion program (created by Kristin Neff, PhD and Christopher Germer, PhD) by Karen Bluth, PhD, Associate Director, Program on Integrative Medicine at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and Lorraine Hobbs, M.A., Director, Youth and Family Programs, University of California, San Diego Center for Mindfulness.
Detailed research reports are available at http://www.mindfulselfcompassionforteens.com/research/.
I can’t meditate, so what should I do?
We hear this a lot but it actually isn’t true. What is true is that many people have a misperception of what meditation is all about. The common thinking is that meditation can only occur in a thought-free state of silent bliss. In fact, the opposite is true. The benefits of meditation come from realizing (mindfulness) that the brain has strayed from the focus point of any given meditation, and then bringing it back to the focus point – over and over again. See, the mind has a default mode where it has evolved in a way such that it wanders into the past and future when not focused on something. This is what helped us learn lessons from the past and apply them to future situations, and helped keep humans safe for millions of years. So the meditation practice actually rewires the brain (neuroplasticity) to better stay in the present moment during daily life.
Therefore, nearly everyone can meditate in some way or another. Some may need to start with short durations in a guided way. Others may be able to jump right into silent meditation. In addition, meditation can be done with focus points like walking or listening to music.
“Don’t feel badly if you find yourself too restless to meditate deeply. Calmness will come in time if you practice regularly. Just never accept the fact thought that meditation is not for you. Remember, calmness is your eternal true nature”
– Paramhansa Yogananda
How can I learn more about MSC?
Please visit our affiliates, friends, resources, and recommended reading page to learn more about Mindful Self-Compassion.