Should vs self-compassion

december-focusAs you may remember, self-compassion was my December focus. I set out to ask myself how I could treat myself kindly every day. Unfortunately I was so busy and stressed out much of the time that I had little energy left to write about the topic.

Even though I wasn’t able to give the topic my full attention I made a couple of interesting observations.


Like I mentioned, I posed myself a simple question every day: “How can I treat myself kindly today?” The things I did were pretty ordinary – I took a walk after a busy day because I thought I would need it, prepared a proper meal instead of grazing mindlessly, or just skipped judging myself if I thought I had “failed” somehow.

When I was pondering my kind acts I realized they were just the actions I strive to do all the time, but that I approached them from a different frame of mind than I usually do.

In my judgmental frame of mind having a walk or preparing a meal are strict commandments to be obeyed. If I fail to do what’s on my todo list, I will judge myself harshly – and feel miserable afterwards.

Going for a walk because you “should” do so, or because that is the kind thing to do are identical as actions but different as inner experiences. If I try to force myself to do something I’m filled with dread and resentment. I’m certainly not motivated to go for a walk. On the other hand, If I take a walk because I want to be kind to myself I feel relaxed and positive about the whole experience.

I think self-compassion won 1-0.

Also, I want to ensure you that I  didn’t turn into a spineless amoeba, but that may just be because one month is such a short time. 🙂

If you’re interested in the topic, check my review on Kristin Neff’s book Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind.


  1. Aimee says:

    I have been suffering from self-compassion deprivation lately. I’ve been extremely insecure for some reason. I will focus more on doing something kind for myself each day particularly retraining my inner voice to say kind things about myself instead of always being so negative and mean.

    • Satu says:

      Hi Aimee! I hope your judging self will give you a break!

  2. Deb says:

    Oh Satu there’s so much of this post I could relate to! Starting with the notion of being TOO busy to find the time or headspace to focus on the things you want to. I have so much thinking to do about certain things but can’t find the energy!

    And I really agree with the ‘wanting’ to do something rather than ‘should’ do something. I remember last year, those times I felt like going for a walk I really enjoyed it. It was when I told myself I HAD to go for a walk that I didn’t want to!

  3. Satu says:

    Hi Deb! Shoulding yourself seems to be a pretty useless habit. If you do what you should you end up feeling like a slave…

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