Words are important. They help us understand, breaking down the ethereal into tiny little syllables, then, using those building blocks to reassemble the concept in a way that we can all understand. In many ways, our Pocket Guides are just like that, breaking down things we may be struggling with into small, identifiable challenges so that solutions can be found.

For this guide, we started by looking at language, asking what is Self-Compassion? According to the dictionary, it looks like this:

SELF (noun)

An individual’s character or behaviour


Sympathetic consciousness of distress, together with a desire to alleviate it

It is the ‘desire to alleviate’ that we are interested in here. From Day One, we were keen that these Pocket Guides should not be pompous, doling out advice in a way that felt disconnected from the reality of what readers were experiencing. So, we assembled a team of Occupational Therapists in their first year of practice, so our guides are minty-fresh and based upon the lived experience of people just like you.  We also spent several months asking questions of the occupational therapy community.

So, what is Self-Compassion? Kristin Neff broke it down into three distinct elements: Self-kindness, Common Humanity and Mindfulness. In this pocket guide, we look at each of these criteria in turn. Why? Because to use new tools and strategies effectively it is helpful to understand the basis on which they have been developed, which is why context is crucial.

Of course, none of this makes any sense unless it relates to you. That is why we have provided practical exercises that are an easy route to, not just reflection, but also taking action. These are written in plain English and are enlightening to do (we know, because we’ve done them ourselves!). For example, by asking yourself the question, “How would I treat a friend?” we come to explore the disconnect between how we respond to others and how we respond to ourselves.

At the end of all our guides is a space for reflection. If that’s useful, great! but if you prefer to dip in and out, that’s fine too. There’s no ‘correct’ way to use our guides.

So why not be kind to yourself. Plan some time to put on that kettle and make time for yourself to explore some tools and techniques. Hopefully, as you use them, they will support you in being more compassionate towards yourself. It’s an efficient way to spend time, because to look after patients, first you must look after you.

Happy reading.

Written by Rob Young

Treating yourself with compassion is one of six wellbeing pocket guides created to support newly qualified occupational therapists in their first year of practice. The others are

  • Building Your Network
  • Quietening Your Inner Critic
  • Becoming Your Own Cheerleader
  • Finding Balance
  • Finding Perspective in Tough Situations.

All are free to downloaded from the Elizabeth Casson website.