Fierce self-compassion 

Self-compassion is about kindness so how can it be fierce? 

Yet, if we consider self-compassion is about alleviating our suffering, sometimes this involves thoughts and behaviors to protect, provide and motivate ourself. 

What is fierce self-compassion? 

In an analogy that the Careering into Motherhood community can probably identify with, is the behaviour of a Mama Bear (Neff, 2021).  We might hold back from protecting and showing kindness towards ourself, but if anything was to threaten our children we would find the confidence and assertiveness for action.   

How might we benefit from fierce self-compassion? 

Fierce self-compassion is about how we interact with our environment when we experience difficulty.  It is how we stand up for ourself. It protects, motivates, and provides for our needs (Neff, 2021).   

What does this mean in practice?  


If we are protecting ourself: 

  • We may need to be brave.  We might have stand up to someone in a way that is not comfortable or our usual behaviour.  
  • We might feel empowered through a sense that we are not alone in the treatment we experienced. 
  • The presence of mindfulness helps us act with clarity and be decisive in our actions. 


If we provide what we need then the factors at play are: 

  • Taking action to meet our needs. 
  • Meeting our needs in a balanced way, not without consideration of others. 
  • Noticing and responding authentically, in a way aligned with what is important to us. 


If we motivate ourself through fierce self-compassion we would see: 

  • Encouragement from a supportive stance. Constructive feedback not an inner critic. 
  • Drawing on our knowledge and wisdom to correct mistakes and learn from them. 
  • Identify our goals and focus on them. (Neff, 2021) 


Practicing self-compassion 


We need to get the right balance. Sometimes we will adopt the soft, warm behaviours.  At other times we draw upon fierce self-compassion. 

  • Consider something you are finding difficult in your life now.  
  • Notice what we are thinking and feeling.   
  • Think of actions you might take to help you, both softer and fierce actions. 


As a reminder the two elements are: 

  • Comforting, soothing and validating (see my earlier blog on The Power of Self-kindness) 
  • Protecting, providing and motivating (see above). 


An example might be noticing your stress level suddenly increase.  As a soft action you could show yourself kindness by stopping and taking a few slow deep breaths.  You also need to protect yourself from it increasing further so to provide for this you put a boundary round the time available to a colleague. 

A final reminder that the outcomes of self-compassion have been evidenced as beneficial in many areas of life.  Showing kindness to yourself is an investment in yourself, so you can be there for others and do the things you wish to do in your life. 

This article was written by Marion Hewitt, one of Careering into Motherhood’s Partner Coaches.   Marion is helping women to value and appreciate themselves, develop greater self-kindness and optimise their natural strengths. You can get in touch via her profile page, visiting her website or LinkedIn page