The Importance of Self Compassion

The Importance of Self Compassion


In the weeks leading up to the time change, I was regularly meditating with the guidance of the Headspace App. Though I can now barely make it out the door in time for my absurdly short commute without meditation, Headspace regularly offers me meditative insights via an app notification. This morning my phone lit up with, “Paradoxically, the best way to make ourselves happier is by focussing on the happiness of others.” While I agree with the sentiment – and have found it to be true in practice – three recent speakers have helped me focus on loving myself in order to love others. 

Culturally Responsive Teaching and Outrageous Love

In early January the MTS professional community dove into the work of culturally responsive teaching. Central to our workshop and Quincy’s ongoing coaching is the notion of valuing and affirming the culture of every student. In doing so, we give all of our students “outrageous love.” Though only a passing remark during the workshop, was the notion that we can only give our students the love they need if we love ourselves as educators.

Changing Our Parenting Self Talk

During one of her monthly parent-education talks, Polly Ely encouraged us to change our parenting self-talk. Facing parenting challenges, too often we say to ourselves “this should not be this hard!” or “This should not be happening!” Parenting, she reminded us, is hard! Instead we should in a self-compassionate way acknowledge that “This is hard… and that is okay!” This subtle shift acknowledges the reality of parenting and is far more self-compassionate than the belief that we should be perfect as parents.

Revolutionary Love Includes Self-Love

In my recent conversation with Valarie Kaur, I was further reminded of the importance of self-compassion. Her framework for revolutionary love – love of others and opponents – is grounded in a love of self. She speaks of the importance of pushing through challenges, while also taking the time to breathe and fuel the next push. Without loving ourselves, we cannot expect to sustain a love for others, let alone our opponents.

I saw this thread of self-compassion as I listened to Kristin Neff’s Self Compassion - The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself in anticipation of hosting her next week for an online parent education talk. Her book and the message of self-compassion were timely fuel for me, as a school leader, educator, and parent. 

On a recent bike ride I returned to a Buddhist self-compassion meditation mantra that I learned nearly 25 years ago: 

May I be happy
May I be healthy
May I be safe
May I live with ease

Though I was tired at the top of Marincello fire road, I felt refueled by self-compassion. That mantra – and the fast, flowy singletrack descent back home – left me ready to provide outrageous love to my family and the students and adults who make our school outstanding. 

I invite you to attend Kristin Neff’s upcoming talk. And regardless of whether you join that Zoom or not, perhaps consider the Headspace notification that I think we all need to see more often:

“Paradoxically, the best way to love others is by focussing on loving ourselves.”


The SPEAK Parent Education event on Tuesday, March 22 from 7:00-8:15 PM was hosted on Zoom. The event was recorded, and we will post a link to the recording as soon as we receive it. Stay tuned!



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