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Self-Compassion - Intermediate Mid

Lesson Information

Positive Psychology Learning Outcomes

Students will...

  1. identify examples of self-compassion. 
  2. recognize ways to be more self-compassionate.
  3. practice self-compassion.  

Language Learning Outcomes

Students will...

  1. connect content to background knowledge.
  2. listen for specific information.
  3. describe/narrate in all tenses 

Materials Needed


Self-compassion is the ability to treat ourselves as we would treat a dear friend who is having a hard time. Self-compassion soothes the negative and grows the positive, therefore it is key to coping with personal limitations while keeping a positive mindset and attitude. Tell students that in this lesson they will learn how to be kinder and nicer to themselves. Introduce the word compassion: a strong feeling of sympathy for someone who is suffering, and a desire to help them.

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Activate Background Knowledge

Show the following video and ask students to focus on how it illustrates self-compassion.

Self-Compassion: Be Kind to Yourself 

After watching the video, have the students discuss with a partner ways they can be nicer to themselves.

Activity 1: Speaking  

With a partner, have the students describe a time when a friend was struggling. Have a couple of students share their stories. Then, with a partner, ask students to describe a time when they were struggling. Again, have a couple of students share. Then discuss:

  • What was the difference in how you treated your friend and yourself? 
  • Point out that we tend to be less compassionate towards ourselves. Why do you think we do that? 

Activity 2: Speaking 

Have the students think of one thing they are struggling with right now (ie: a difficult task, grades, roommates). 

With a partner, describe the struggle, suggest one way you can be more self-compassionate, and then let your partner suggest one way you can be more self-compassionate (the more specific, the better). Each partner should write down their partner’s suggestion. 

  • Partner A: I have a paper due on Friday, and I’m a terrible writer.
  • Partner A (again): I should probably stop calling myself a terrible writer because it’s not good for my confidence.
  • Partner B: That’s a good idea. I think you should also remember all the papers you’ve done well on. 
  • Partner A: *writes it down*

Switch roles. If it doesn’t take up a ton of time, switch to new partners that way they can get multiple suggestions for self-compassion.

Activity 3: Speaking 

Have students work in groups of 2-3. Give them the following list of scenarios and have them create a list of as many self-compassionate reactions as they can think of. Give them 5-7 minutes to complete their list. Once they are finished, have each group share their list (but don’t repeat ideas another group has given), and brownie points to whoever has the most ideas that weren’t repeated. Praise students when they talk about examples of self-compassion and kindness.


  • Failed a test
  • Got a bad grade on a paper
  • Did not get a job
  • Lost a favorite article of clothing
  • Burned dinner
  • Forgot to call a friend for their birthday
  • Was late to class
  • Missed a group project meeting
  • Said something rude to a roommate
  • Overslept
  • Got a speeding ticket
  • Forgot to finish homework
  • Told a lie
  • Had a bad date

Activity 4: Listening (Meditation)  

Have students listen to the following guided meditation on self-compassion. Remind students to listen and follow the instructions of the speaker, and if they can’t understand everything, they should try to relax and think kind thoughts about themselves. 

Guided Meditation for Self-Compassion 


Compassionate Letter to Myself 

To begin practicing self-compassion, it can be helpful to have students write a letter to themselves about a current struggle in their lives or an area where they feel inadequate and want to motivate themselves to change. Following the idea from the previous activity, invite students to write this letter as if they were talking to a dear friend facing the same concerns as them. Tell students to not worry too much about organizing their words or thoughts and to simply write from their hearts. You can also tell them that this letter does not have to be long, a couple of sentences might be enough. 

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Invite students to share their experiences and discuss how kindness and self-compassion are helping them be happier in their lives. Have students talk about how they felt when writing a compassionate letter to themselves, did they feel relieved, happier, comforted? Praise students when they talk about their feelings with this experience. 


Ask students to discuss what the following quote means to them. Highlight any comments related to self-compassion and kindness. 

“If we want to learn from our mistakes and keep from repeating them, we need a compassionate mindset, not shame.” - Shauna Shapiro


After a couple days, have students open the letter they wrote to themselves and re-read it, letting the words comfort them. Invite students to think about the ways they are trying to be more self-compassionate and how it is working. 

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