What is compassion?

It is the emotional response to another’s pain or suffering, involving an authentic desire to help.

In her book Atlas of the Heart, Brene Brown says, “Compassion is fueled by understanding and accepting that we’re all made of strength and struggle- no one is immune to pain or suffering. Compassion is not a practice of ‘better than’ or ‘I can fix you’- it’s a practice based in the beauty and pain of shared humanity.”


Compassion starts with empathy- seeing and feeling from another person’s perspective. But compassion takes it a step further. Compassion includes taking action to help.

As a mom, who do you find yourself focusing your compassion towards? Your kids? Your spouse? Other moms? Coworkers?



If you are a behavior analyst and a mom- who are you focusing your compassion towards? I know you are using it at work for your clients and their families. Are you saving enough for your family, too?

I hope to be a compassionate mom. I hope my kids see me that way. I hope all of you reading this agree with that goal- to be a compassionate parent.

But that’s not what I want to talk about.  I want to talk about compassion for you. You give and you give and you give out all of your compassion all day long. What are you left with for yourself? If you continue like this, you’ll end up with very real compassion fatigue which includes a level of depersonalization- something I know you don’t want in your family life.

How can we get YOU to show some compassion for YOU?

What does it feel like to receive compassion from others in your life? You can do that for yourself.  It’s called self-compassion, and it’s kind of a big deal.

Compassion for others starts with noticing the suffering in others. That’s the empathy piece. Have you paused for a moment to check in with yourself? What are you dealing with right now? What are you struggling with? What sticky situation is happening for you right now?  Have you noticed it? Named it? Acknowledged that it exists?

Compassion takes empathy one step further by including an authentic desire to help. What action steps can you take to relieve some of this stress from yourself? How can you show yourself that you care?

Self-compassion has 3 key components according to researchers such as Dr. Kristin Neff, author of the book Self-Compassion and founder of the Mindful Center for Self-Compassion.

Self-kindness means treating yourself with the same kindness you would extend a friend. If you heard a mom friend beating herself up with all the shoulds, “I should have done ____,” and “I shouldn’t have done ___,” what would you say? Would you help her berate herself even more? NO! You would say something along the lines of “This is hard.”

So one simple action you can do to ameliorate your own suffering and show yourself self-compassion is simply telling yourself, “This is hard.” 

Feeling frustrated over something going not so well in your parenting life?? Guess what? Parenting is HARD! So remind yourself of that. When you start the negative self-talk, I’m not asking you to counter it or use logic to respond to the mom guilt or should. Just pause and tell yourself, “This is hard.” That’s self-compassion in action, and it doesn’t take much time or any money.

Common humanity reminds us that we aren’t the only ones dealing with this type of problem. Not to minimize what you’re going through in your own parenting journey, but to let you know that you aren’t alone. We can stand together and hold each other up.

The final piece of self-compassion is mindfulness. Inside the Bx Mom Collective, we focus on Parenting with Acceptance and Commitment Training. Within ACT, we clarify our values and find ways to get to the point where we can mindfully choose the type of parent we want to be- even on a moment to moment basis. We want to notice our thoughts and feelings, but not let them hook us and take us down a path we didn’t mean to choose. Mindfulness helps us create space to choose and then choose again and then again. It’s not the easiest road, but it can easily be the most fulfilling.

We can start small with incorporating more self-compassion into our day by simply noticing when your mind is hooking you with negative self-talk, shoulds, and mom guilt.

Pause and notice. Then tell yourself, “This is hard.” Try to talk to yourself like you would a good friend sharing these same sentiments out loud with you.

Taking little steps to show yourself more self-compassion will have a big payoff not only for you but also for your family.

And remember, you are not alone. If you are ready to learn more about Parenting with ACT and showing yourself more self-compassion in your life, here are 2 options:

  1. All parents- I’d be happy to help you identify some goals and action steps for you and your family! You are welcome to book a free coaching call by clicking here.
  2. If you are a behavior analyst (or in a related field) and a mom- Join other moms who also work in behavior analysis and understand how wearing both hats can sometimes feel like a lot!  Sign up for the upcoming Bx Mom Party by following this link.

Try giving yourself some compassion today. You deserve it!