Self-Compassion, Part III: Growing Tenderheartedness

Do you treat yourself gently? Do you acknowledge the sources of distress in your life? Learn self-compassion and begin to heal.


This article is the third in a series that aims to look at the concept and development of self-compassion. We’ve defined compassion as a tenderhearted recognition of pain or distress, coupled with a desire to alleviate it. The first article looked at the concept of compassion as a whole while the second explored growing compassion through recognizing limits. This article will look at the first part of our definition of compassion: having tenderheartedness toward your distress.


The type of tenderheartedness that is integral to compassion is more than a soft emotion: it is a relational stance. It is easy to forget about and neglect the relationships we have with ourselves, all too often ignoring this relationship or bullying ourselves. For example, many survivors of trauma will repeat the words an abusive individual once hurled at them, and in turn will develop an abusive relationship with themselves. Self-compassion stands in opposition to this and offers a gentler way to interact with yourself.


by Susanne M. Dillmann, PsyD