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Practicing Self-Compassion as Asian Americans by Asian American Therapist

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Practicing self-compassion is an important part of taking care of ourselves which can often be tough, especially for Asian American individuals who may face unique cultural challenges.

Many children of immigrants from collectivist cultures are taught to prioritize the needs of others before their own. We are encouraged to be selfless and to place the needs of our families and communities first. While this can be a wonderful trait, it can also make it challenging to prioritize our own self-care and practice self-compassion.

Additionally, many Asian cultures place a strong emphasis on achievement and success. As a result, we may feel pressure to excel in all aspects of our lives, from academics to careers to relationships. When we inevitably fall short, it can be difficult to show ourselves the same kindness and understanding that we would offer to others.

It’s also worth noting that self-compassion can be especially challenging for those who struggle with mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. These conditions can lead to negative self-talk and self-blame, making it even harder to practice self-compassion.

But practicing self-compassion allows us to recognize our worth as individuals, independent of our achievements or the opinions of others. It also helps us to cope with adversity in a healthy way, rather than beating ourselves up and internalizing our struggles.

If you’re struggling to practice self-compassion, try starting with small steps.

Give yourself permission to take breaks, and speak to yourself kindly like you would a friend. Remember, making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process. With time and practice, self-compassion can become a natural and integral part of your self-care routine.

Self-Compassion in Action

Examples of self-compassion:

Speak to yourself kindly

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  1. When you notice negative self-talk or self-criticism, try to reframe those thoughts with more compassionate ones. For example, instead of saying “I’m such a failure for not getting that promotion,” try saying “It’s okay to not get everything I want. I’ll keep trying and learn from this experience.”

    Here are more examples of self-compassionate language:
    • “I am deserving of love and kindness, just like everyone else.”
    • “I am allowed to make mistakes and learn from them, just like anyone else.”
    • “I don’t have to meet others’ expectations; I can live my life on my own terms.”
    • “I am worthy of self-care and taking time for myself.”
    • “It’s okay to ask for help and support when I need it.”
    • “I am not defined by my accomplishments or my job; I am more than my work.”
    • “I am allowed to feel my emotions and express them; they are valid and important.”
    • “I am enough, just as I am.”

  2. Take breaks when needed: If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, take a break and give yourself permission to rest. For example, if you’re feeling burnt out from work, take a mental health day to recharge.
  3. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness can help us stay present and non-judgmental, which can be helpful when practicing self-compassion. Try a guided meditation, or simply take a few minutes to focus on your breath and tune out distractions.
  4. Be kind to your body: Show your body kindness by nourishing it with healthy foods, getting enough sleep, and engaging in physical activity that feels good. Rather than punishing yourself with intense exercise or restrictive diets, focus on self-care that feels nurturing and supportive.
  5. Embrace imperfection: Remember that no one is perfect and making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process. Rather than beating yourself up over imperfections or failures, try to approach them with openness and curiosity.
  6. Seek support: Don’t be afraid to reach out for support when you need it. Whether it’s talking to a friend or a therapist, seeking support can help you feel less alone and give you a safe space to practice self-compassion.


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Overall, practicing self-compassion involves treating yourself with the same kindness, care, and understanding that you would offer to a loved one. It can take time and effort, but the benefits to your mental health and overall well-being are worth it.

It may feel very difficult and perhaps unnatural for those of us who have grown in very critical, competitive, or even traumatic environments. It’s important to remember that practicing self-compassion is a skill that can be developed with time and practice. Here are some tips that can help:

Recognize that self-compassion is not selfish. It’s natural to want to prioritize the needs of others, but taking care of ourselves is just as important. We cannot pour from an empty cup, so it’s essential to take care of ourselves before we can effectively care for others.

Practice Self-Awareness

Pay attention to the way you talk to yourself and the thoughts you have about yourself. Are they kind and understanding, or critical and judgmental? By recognizing negative self-talk, you can begin to challenge those thoughts and replace them with more compassionate ones.

Also, take baby steps. Start small with self-compassion, but know that it may feel uncomfortable or foreign at first. But with practice, it will become easier. Try speaking to yourself the way you would speak to a friend, or take a break when you’re feeling overwhelmed instead of pushing yourself too hard.

Seek support. Practicing self-compassion can be challenging, but it’s important to remember that you don’t have to do it alone. Reach out to friends, family, or a therapist for support and guidance.

Ultimately, practicing self-compassion is a journey, not a destination. It takes time and effort, but the rewards are worth it. By showing ourselves the same kindness and understanding that we offer to others, we can improve our mental health and overall well-being. So be patient with yourself, and remember that self-compassion is a skill that can be learned and cultivated over time.

Consider Starting Online Therapy for Asian Americans To Address Self-Compassion

Our Asian American therapists at Yellow Chair Collective can help you cultivate self-compassion language and narratives. Our Asian American therapy is trauma-informed and culturally responsive.

To get started with therapy sessions at our Los Angeles-based therapy practice, follow the steps below.

  • Request an appointment using the prompt below or our contact form.
  • Begin meeting with a culturally responsive therapist.
  • Explore any barriers and start cultivating self-compassion.

Other Services Offered with Yellow Chair Collective 

The therapists at our Los Angeles and New York City-based counseling center can offer support for a number of mental health concerns. This is why we are happy to offer support with more than just self-compassion. We work with teensindividuals, and couples, and address issues such as anxietypostpartum therapytrauma, and PTSD. Our team can also provide culturally sensitive treatment for highly sensitive peoplesupport groupsburnout, and workshops for organizations. All of these services can be utilized in-person or online anywhere in California or New York.

Relevant Resources

Yellow Chair Collective: The Podcast | Overcoming the Pressures of Perfection

Yellow Chair Collective: The Podcast | How Existential Therapy Unlocks Self Love & Anti-Racist Liberation w/ Dr. Wendy Ashley

Yellow Chair Collective: The Podcast | Asian Women & Intersectional Body Acceptance (with Angela Nguyen & Catherine Vu)

Yellow Chair Collective: The Podcast | Kat Chan: Licensed Therapist Reactions to Pressure of Following Society’s Expectations