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Cultivating a Life of Compassion

Self-compassion is key to staying motivated when we feel we cannot continue through life’s challenges

We all fail, make mistakes, or feel inadequate at some point — we're human! Alongside life's regular challenges, school can add to the stress. During these times, learn how exercising self-compassion can help you continue to press forward with hope.

What is self-compassion?


In the scriptures, compassion means “to suffer with.” It includes a deep awareness of another’s suffering. Compassion is motivated by a desire to alleviate that suffering. Self-compassion, then, involves acknowledging your suffering and responding with kindness rather than being self-critical.

Say, for example, you’re learning English for the first time and you make a mistake or don’t do well on an assignment. If you choose to be hard on yourself, your long-term motivation will decrease; having compassion will increase your desire to continue. 1
See also Kristen Neff, "What is Self-Compassion?"
Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that “as children of God, we should not demean or vilify ourselves, as if beating up on ourselves is somehow going to make us the person God wants us to become.” 2
Jeffery R. Holland, “Be Ye Therefore Perfect — Eventually,Liahona, Nov. 2017

What did Christ teach about compassion?

During His ministry, Jesus Christ was often “moved with compassion” 3 when He saw others suffering. Afterward, miracles would often occur. 4

Christ has the same compassion for you, and He wants to work miracles in your life. As you accept His compassion and strive to see yourself as He does — a divine son or daughter of Heavenly Parents — you invite His love and mercy into your life.

How can I be compassionate toward myself?

In moments when you're struggling with negative self-talk, the following exercise 5
See also Kristin Neff, "Exercise 2: Self-Compassion Break"
can be done anywhere and anytime. Let's use the example of learning English again to see what this might look like.
Two people holding hands

  1. Take a moment to acknowledge your challenging situation: “Learning a new language is hard.”
  2. Validate how you feel: “I feel frustrated! And that's understandable and okay at this moment.”
  3. Remember that suffering is a part of life. It can make you bitter, or it can make you better: “Feeling this way is a normal part of being human. I'm struggling right now, but I won't struggle forever.”
  4. Speak to yourself in a kind and comforting way. Focus on positive language that motivates you to keep moving forward: “I have done hard things before, and I can again. I can learn English. I am capable."

We at BYU-Pathway Worldwide believe in you. You can do this!