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Book Review: Fierce Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff

Updated: Feb 20, 2022

What does compassion for ourselves have to do with creativity?

Well, more or less everything.

To keep our creativity flowing, we need self-compassion in spades.

Something didn't turn out the way you expected? Treating yourself with kindness helps ease the way forward.

You didn't get the recognition you felt you deserved? Soothing yourself with care and attention helps you move through your grief.

You want to be spending more time on a project more than you are? Giving yourself care and understanding softens you and lays the groundwork for being able to get back to it tomorrow.

Throughout Fierce Self-Compassion, Dr. Kristin Neff explores the differences and interdependency

between tender self-compassion and fierce self-compassion. While tender self-compassion is evidenced in the examples above, fierce self-compassion allows us to turn towards action in a different way.

Standing rooted in our foundation of kindness towards ourselves, fierce self-compassion lets us build and maintain boundaries, speak out against injustice, and follow through even when things are tough. In short, it allows us to act.

Dr. Neff writes, "Some people worry that self-compassion will make them soft, but it actually gives them incredible power."

And this is true in our creative work as well. When something doesn't go as planned creatively, do you feel better when you are hard on yourself for it? Or when you remind yourself that setbacks happen to all creators, and you can always try again?

Being able to dust ourselves off is hugely impactful for our creative work, and so is being able to begin. Self-compassion gives us the assurance that no matter how things go, we have a soft place to land within ourselves. An internal sense of safety is vital to sustainable creative work.

Dr. Neff also writes in depth about our relationships to our inner critics, which are an inextricable part of our creative process. My own work with clients focuses substantially on noticing the inner critic as a helpful, protective (if sometimes misguided) part of our internal landscape. Dr. Neff examines the same idea, pointing out that treating the inner critic with kindness leads to far more helpful outcomes than pushing back against it.

Fierce Self-Compassion is chock full of sound research, practical exercises, and profound insights about the power and efficacy of self-compassion.

If you're looking to fortify your own self-compassion, give it a read. And drop me a line to let me know what you think when you do!

And if you'd like to dive more deeply into learning how to soothe and befriend your own inner critic, my upcoming workshop teaches practical skills and tools for exactly how to do that. Come join us!

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