Dr. Kristin Neff : Self-compassion and self-esteem (english) [06/2011]

00271rDr. Kristin Neff is an Associate Professor in Human Development and Culture at the University of Austin Texas. She studied communications at the University of California at Los Angeles where she got her B.A. in 1988. In 1997 she got her Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. In this talk at Books Inc in Berkeley, CA she introduces her new book "Self-Compassion - Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind".

She starts out showing how self-esteem relates to self-compassion. Kristin regularly refers to results from psycholgical studies e.g. on how the drive of people wanting to be seen as above average thus constantly comparing themselves to others has lead to an epidemic of narcissism. The sense of entitlement within the younger generation has risen rapidly over the last years. Putting other people down is a main source for people to boost their own self-esteem. Identification with the "better" group is another source. Defending your ego and putting the blame on others is another boost mechanism to raise self-esteem. Through these habits our self-esteem is always dependant on other people and finding ways to see yourself as better than them.

Kristin sees three key aspects related to developing self-compassion :

  1. Self-kindness versus harsh self-judgement - we have to actively comfort ourselves
  2. Sense of Common Humanity - We tend to feel isolated from the world which increases our suffering. Overcoming this feeling of isolation and developing a sense of common humanity is key to be able to experience self-compassion
  3. Mindfulness - Being with things as they are in the present moment. We can only give ourselves compassion unless we are mindfully aware of our suffering

Kristin continues explaining the difference between self-compassion vs. self-pity and explores the cultural influences that causes a low level of compassion within Western society.

Kristin's Website : http://www.self-compassion.org/

Related information :

The movie "The Horse Boy" tells the story of Kristin's son Rowan who was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. When Kirstin and her husband Rupert discovered that Rowan had developed a deep connection with horses which improved his autism and allowed him to speak they decided to go on a journey to Mongolia to treat his condition with a shamanic healing tradition that involves horses. This is the trailer for the movie :

More info on this movie : http://www.zeitgeistfilms.com/horseboy

A podcast interview with Kristin's husband Rupert in which he speaks about the trip to Mongolia is available in the Resource section