Self-Empathy Definition

  • is a moment to moment sensing into one's own experiencing (feelings, thoughts, meanings, desires, etc.)

  • This quality of sensing into self can be deepened or blocked.

Self-Empathy In the Empathy Circle

  • In the Empathy Circle when the Speaker is heard, it creates support for the Speaker to feel into their own inner feelings and thoughts. Having the space to express oneself and be heard supports Self-Empathy.

Self-Empathy Exercises To Do In The Empathy Circle

    1. What is an exercise we could do in the empathy circle?

We post reference material about Self-Empathy here.

Self-Empathy on Scoop-It - For the past 10 years or so, Edwin has been adding articles and papers on the topic of Self-Empathy that he comes across to this service site. You can scroll down the pages to see the articles.

Carl Rogers

Carl Rogers didn't talk explicitly about self empathy but he identified the essence of it. “Being listened to by someone who understands makes it possible for persons to listen more accurately to themselves, with greater empathy toward their own visceral experiencing, their own vaguely felt meanings.” ~ Carl Rogers

Focusing and Self-Empathy

Focusing process was founded by Gene Gendlin who was a grad student with Carl Rogers. The Focusing process is very much about Self Empathy. In fact, I find that the word 'Focusing' could be replaced with the word 'Self Empathy' in the various writings about the focusing process and it would acuratly describe Self Empathy.

The Essential Role of Self-Empathy in Focusing
By Robert L. Lee, PH.D.

VIDEO: Gendlin's Focusing: Self-empathy, Caring Feeling Presence, as first step
by Kathy McGuire

Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and Self-Empathy
NVC was founded by Marshall Rosenberg who was a grad student with Carl Rogers. He built on Rogers work by putting a focus on sensing the feelings and the underlying needs of other people. Also on sensing ones own feelings and needs. This is self empathy.

"Translate all self-judgments into self-empathy"

Marshall Rosenberg


"In silent self empathy, we are self connecting to whatever is alive in us at that moment. We are trying to feel the felt sense of our experience. It’s like we put our mind’s eye into the heart of our experience and really feel it, without judgment or narrative. Just like in meditation, when we notice our attention drift to thought, we gently but firmly redirect our awareness back to the feelings. When we are connected to the feelings we attune to them like to a young child, with tenderness and presence.

In active empathic listening, we use feelings and needs guessing to connect to ourselves."

"To be able to hear our own feelings and needs and to empathize with them can free us from depression."

"Self-empathy in NVC means checking in with your feelings and needs."

VIDEO: Empathie und Selbstempathie

VIDEO: How to Do Self-Empathy - Cup of Empathy

VIDEO: How to not hate yourself | Marshall Rosenberg

To Review

ZHU Xi on Self-Focused vs. Other-Focused Empathy
Justin Tiwald

"This chapter is about issues in ethics and moral psychology that have been little explored by contemporary philosophers, ones that concern the advantages and disadvantages of two different kinds of empathy. Roughly, first type is what is sometimes called “other-focused” empathy, in which one reconstructs the thoughts and feelings that someone else has or would have. The second type, “self-focused” empathy, is the sort of emotional attitude someone adopts when she imagines how she would think or feel were she in the other person’s place. Both are variants of empathy, for both have to do with having thoughts and feelings that are more apt, in the relevant senses, for someone else’s circumstances than one’s own. "

VIDEO: "Recovering Lost Goodness: Shame, Guilt, and Self-Empathy"
Nancy Sherman

" Self-empathy is never discussed. And yet, as I argue in this paper, self-empathy is a critical part of moral repair and a sense of recovering lost goodness. It is an important notion to explore in thinking about moral recovery from war. "

Self-Compassion: An Alternative Conceptualization of a Healthy Attitude Toward Oneself

Pg. 90.
"The Self-in-Relation Model
The closest resemblance to the self-compassion concept is probably found in the work of Judith Jordan, one of the founders of the self-in-relation model of women’s psychological development (Jordan, 1997; Jordan, Kaplan, Miller, Stiver, & Surrey, 1991). Jordan (1989, 1991a, 1991b) has written briefly about the concept of self empathy in her writings (though the ideas have not been fully elaborated), describing it as a process in which the individual adopts an attitudinal stance of nonjudgment and openness toward the self. In this view, self-empathy is closely related to empathy for others, defined in terms of feeling emotionally connected to others and recognizing one’s similarity to others, so that one empathizes with the inevitable failure and loss associated with being human (Jordan, 1989). Jordan writes that self empathy is a kind of ‘‘corrective relational experience’’ with oneself in which previously judged and disowned aspects of self are ‘‘accepted and responded to in a caring, affectively present and re-connected manner’’ (1991b, p. 287). "

The measurement of self-empathy based on the relational development model: A pilot study.
Clark, C. A. (Christy Adams Clark) (1999).
Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Wright Institute.

This paper explores the concept of self-empathy from a feminists relational perspective. It includes an academic literature review. It looks at relational empathy and self-empathy. The paper describes a self empathy measure, the Self-Empathy Scale.

  • "self-empathy involves the process of having empathy for one’s own thoughts, feelings and experiences"

  • "In the Relational model, self-empathy is inextricably linked to empathy."

  • empathy is,, “the process through which one’s experienced sense of basic connection and similarity to other humans is established" (Jordan, 1991, p. 69).

  • Sefl-Empathy, "The ability to observe and appreciate one’s own authentic feelings, thoughts and context with an attitude of curiosity and compassion."

Booklet: The Self in Empathy: Self-empathy
Lidewij Niezink and Katherine Train

The Self in Empathy: Self-empathy
Noticing, recognizing, and working with self in order to empathize with others.
Lidewij Niezink and Katherine Train
July 13, 2020
This article is the first in a series on the notion and practice of Self-Empathy
Although there is some literature on self-empathy and its supposed effects in psychoanalysis (
Jordan, 1994, Sherman, 2014), surprisingly little is written on the skill itself. How does one empathize with oneself? What blocks to self-empathy can prevent us from doing so? How does self-empathy differ from related commonly used terms like self-awareness and mindfulness?(Barrett-Lennard, 1997)

Self-Empathy Is Required to Empathize With Others
Lidewij Niezink and Katherine Train
March 5, 2021
When you empathize with others, how do you know that it's not just a projection of your own experiences?

Preventing Conflict Through Self-Empathy
Lidewij Niezink and Katherine Train
September 23, 2020
Self-empathy helps us navigate polarizing assumptions and judgments.

Noticing with Self-Empathy
Lidewij Niezink and Katherine Train
July 31, 2020
Do you find yourself getting caught up in interactions where misunderstandings are starting to occur, making you feel threatened and defensive? Self-empathy helps you to notice.

Self-Empathy With Ethical Responsibility and Centredness
Lidewij Niezink and Katherine Train
August 27, 2020
Working with others to provide an encouraging presence or healing space requires providing a conducive environment for them. Self-empathy helps create that presence and space.

The missing construct: Impathy – Conceptualization, operationalization, and clinical considerations
by Stefanie Neubrand, 2021

A PhD dissertation that explores self-empathy but calls it impathy.

"Based on this theoretical perspective, 4+1 interdependent dimensions of impathy are postulated:

  • (I) Internal Attention, i.e. the ability to perceive one’s own bodily and psychological phenomena;

  • (II) Meta-Position, i.e. the ability to adjust the distance from which one can perceive their own experiences and situation;

  • (III) Accepting Attitude, i.e. the ability to perceive one’s experience and situation with openness, acceptance and without judgement;

  • (IV) Understanding, i.e. the ability to understand one’s own experience and the context in which it is embedded. "

  • + Impathic Reaction

The missing construct: Impathy
Stefanie Neubrand, Jens Gaab

This article is about impathy (introversive empathy), understood as the ability to share in and understand one's own feelings, which is considered a critical psychological construct relevant for the recovery and maintenance of mental health. However, while the ability to empathize with oneself has received considerable attention from the clinical community, this has not been paralleled by the same scientific scrutiny, which was subject to the ability to empathize with others.

Impathy, Self-Empathy, Self-Compassion: How to They Relate?
Stefanie Neubrand and Edwin Rutsch