This month’s tool: Books on shame, self-criticism, and self-compassion for the public
We have updated our resource page with some of our favorite books on shame, self-criticism, and self-compassion for the public that we find useful in working with shame-prone and self-critical clients. We find that it can be helpful to recommend these types of readings for clients who are unsure about attending to their shame or about cultivating self-compassion, or for clients who are all-in and want more information. These books are great for therapists to read and apply too! If you have your own favorite books, we would love to hear about them!
- Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself. This book is the original self-help book that helped set off the current wave of interest in self-compassion. Written by Kristin Neff, this a useful book to introduce clients to the idea of self-compassion. It's written as a blend of ideas based on Neff's research interwoven with ideas from Buddhism.
- The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions. This excellent book by Christopher Germer contains a variety of meditative practices based on a largely Buddhist perspective that can help you soften your own self-criticism and be kinder to yourself and others.
- Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Salzberg and Kabat-Zinn. This book teaches how to use the practice of lovingkindness to open hearts and transform lives.
- Guilt, Shame, and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions is an interesting new book by Peter Breggin, a well known psychiatrist and worth considering for people wanting to learn more about shame.
- I Thought It Was Just Me (But Isn't) is quickly becoming a classic on shame by well known speaker and qualitative researcher, Brene Brown. An excellent book about shame and how to build resilience in the face of it.
- The Gifts of Imperfection is another excellent book by Brene Brown which has a big focus on shame and related emotions and what to do about it.
- Radical Acceptance attends to what the author, Tara Brach, refers to as the “trance of unworthiness,” and how we can learn to make friends with all parts of ourselves. Tara Brach is a clinical psychologist and the founder of Insight Meditation Society of Washington DC.
- True Refuge is also by Tara Brach, a well known meditation teacher. This book teaches how to “find the place within each person that capable of limitless love.”
Books based on compassion-focused therapy for the public
- Mindful Compassion: How the Science of Compassion Can Help You Understand Your Emotions, Live in the Present, and Connect Deeply with Others. This book by Paul Gilbert (creator of compassion-focused therapy) and Choden (a Buddhist monk) presents the principles of compassion-focused therapy in an accessible manner. A great book for people wanting to develop a kinder, more compassionate way of related to themselves and others.
- The Power of Self-Compassion: Using Compassion-Focused Therapy to End Self-Criticism and Build Self-Confidence by Welford and Gilbert. This book uses tools from Compassion-Focused Therapy to guide increased self-compassion and self-confidence.
- An Open-Hearted Life: Transformative Methods for Compassionate Living from a Clinical Psychologist and a Buddhist Nun is written in short chapters that make it easy to consume. Each chapter can be read in one sitting, each has a brief exercise to put to use the concepts therein, and each covers one topic that is important to living a more compassionate life.
- The Compassionate Mind Guide to Overcoming Anxiety - This book is written primarily from the perspective of compassion-focused therapy, but also integrates techniques from acceptance and commitment therapy. This might be a particularly relevant book for people who are both anxious and highly self-critical.
- The Compassionate-Mind Guide to Managing Your Anger – A book based on compassion-focused therapy on how to bring compassion to the pain of anger and feeling threatened.
- The Compassionate-Mind Guide to Recovering from Trauma and PTSD - A book based on compassion-focused therapy on how to bring compassion to people who have survived trauma and abuse.
- The Compassionate-Mind Guide to Ending Overeating - A book based on compassion-focused therapy for people who binge or suffer from disordered eating.
- The Compassionate-Mind Guide to Building Social Confidence - A book based on compassion-focused therapy for people who are shy or suffer from social anxiety.