What Is Compassion & How Do You Develop It

Learn the science behind what compassion is, how it’s distinct from similar concepts, and how to increase it.

Compassion is a term that you are likely familiar with already. But why are psychologists interested in compassion, and how does it relate to your well-being? Compassion is generally defined in the field of psychology as “being moved by another’s suffering and wanting to help” (Lazarus, 1991). The opposite of compassion may be “callousness” and “heartlessness.” These terms suggest at least indifference to, if not enjoyment of, another’s suffering.

It is generally theorized that humans have evolved to experience compassion because the altruistic behavior the emotion often triggers likely improved the survival of our ancestors (Goetz et al., 2010). However, people may experience levels of compassion that vary widely depending on context.

For example, research has found that individuals are more likely to feel compassion for individuals who are in their own social group (Hein et al. 2010). There may be an evolutionary basis for this whereby our ancestors were more likely to survive if they felt compassion for those within their social group and not for those from competitor groups (Gilbert, 2020).

Compassion Versus Empathy

Are compassion and empathy the same thing?
Compassion and empathy may be confused because both emotions are ways of relating to the emotions of others. However, it can be helpful to differentiate these concepts. For example, psychologists Singer and Klimecki make a clear distinction between the two as follows: “In contrast to empathy, compassion does not mean sharing the suffering of the other: rather, it is characterized by feelings of warmth, concern, and care for the other, as well as a strong motivation to improve the other person’s well-being. Compassion is feeling for and not feeling with the other” (2014).

An empathetic response might result in wanting to remove oneself from the emotional situation, a compassionate response entails a desire to help the other person (in essence, getting even closer to the emotional situation). This distinction is supported by the research. Psychologist Eisenberg found that people who felt compassion were more likely to help than people who felt empathic distress (2000).

Can You Increase Compassion?

Research into compassion has grown over the last few decades in part due to its perceived benefits to oneself and others. Indeed, researchers have found various positive outcomes of experiencing compassion, including reduced depression and anxiety (MacBeth & Gumley, 2012). So you may be wondering how to increase your compassion.

One recent line of research has involved contemplative practices such as meditation as a means to increase benevolent feelings towards others. An example of this is a practice often referred to as loving-kindness meditation. This meditation is where an individual is guided to wish well upon others and to notice the associated, often pleasant, feelings. Long-term practice of this and similar meditation is associated with functional changes in the brain: experienced meditators who had trained in compassion were found to have a stronger neural response in an area of the brain associated with compassion than novice meditators (Lutz et al., 2008).

Fortunately, you don’t need to have practiced loving-kindness meditation for thirty years to reap its benefits. Researchers have found that even short-term practice can have benefits not only for other people in the person’s life but also for the person who is practicing (Singer & Klimecki, 2014, Frederickson et al., 2008). There are numerous guided loving-kindness meditations available for free online – you might try one or two out to see for yourself.

What Is Compassion Fatigue?

So far, we have considered the benefits of experiencing compassion. However, some research has explored compassion’s disadvantages, as in the case of compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue is most often recognized and discussed in the context of helping professions such as medicine, nursing, social work, and clinical psychology. Figley refers to compassion fatigue as “a more user-friendly term for secondary traumatic stress disorder, which is nearly identical to PTSD, except that it applies to those emotionally affected by the trauma of another” (Figley, 2002).

The phenomenon stems from the intense emotional investment that many individuals, including doctors, nurses, social workers, and psychologists, may have in their clients’ or patients’ situations. Even if you are not working in one of these professional contexts, you might still experience compassion fatigue related to close friends or family members.

In Sum

Compassion is key to the human experience, driving prosocial behavior and improving countless lives. While we have seen that the feeling of compassion can lead to negative outcomes, as in the case of compassion fatigue, we have also seen that it generally has numerous benefits for both the person experiencing compassion and the person(s) for whom compassion is felt.



  • ​​​Eisenberg, N. (2000). Emotion, regulation, and moral development. Annual Review of Psychology, 51(1), 665-697.
  • Figley, C. R. (Ed.). (2002). Treating compassion fatigue. Routledge.
  • Gilbert, P. (2020). Compassion: From its evolution to a psychotherapy. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 3123.
  • Goetz, J. L., Keltner, D., & Simon-Thomas, E. (2010). Compassion: An evolutionary analysis and empirical review. Psychological Bulletin, 136(3), 351.
  • Hein, G., Silani, G., Preuschoff, K., Batson, C. D., & Singer, T. (2010). Neural responses to ingroup and outgroup members’ suffering predict individual differences in costly helping. Neuron, 68(1), 149-160.
  • Lazarus, R. S., & Lazarus, R. S. (1991). Emotion and adaptation. Oxford University Press on Demand.
  • Lutz, A., Brefczynski-Lewis, J., Johnstone, T., & Davidson, R. J. (2008). Regulation of the neural circuitry of emotion by compassion meditation: Effects of meditative expertise. PloS one, 3(3), e1897.
  • MacBeth, A., & Gumley, A. (2012). Exploring compassion: A meta-analysis of the association between self-compassion and psychopathology. Clinical Psychology Review, 32(6), 545-552.

Sajid Ahamed is a “Certified Trainer of NLP” and organizes John Grinder approved New Code NLP and NLP Master Practitioner Certifications  Courses in India and the Middle East. He has more than 1000 hours of coaching experience and is an ICF accredited Professional Certified Coach (PCC). Apart from the Trainings, he covers a  wide niche of coaching including Relationship Coaching, Parenting Coaching, Leadership Coaching.

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Tips to Become Better at Solving Problems

Learn to identify problems and generate effective solutions. Discover different problem-solving skills and tools.

If I ask you, What do most people do when faced with a problem in life? You would probably reply either of the below-

  1. They can choose to adopt a victim mentality and let the problem control them.
  2. They may opt to avoid the conflict or challenge altogether.
  3. Alternatively, they can take action to change the situation.
  4. They can also modify their perspective of the experience.
  5. Finally, they have the option to accept the problem or challenge and find ways to cope with it

In my coaching practice, I conduct the ELI assessment, that helps you to understand how you handle conflicts most of the time and how does it differ when you are under stress or when things don’t go the way you intended.

Problem-solving is exactly what it sounds like–it is the intentional planning and execution of practical solutions to issues that come up in your life. No matter how hard you try to avoid them, problems will always pop up. Maybe the road you need to use to get to work for a meeting is unexpectedly closed. Or maybe the grocery store is out of an important ingredient you need to make dinner. 

In psychology, problems are defined as difficulties that cause a person to ask questions that enrich their knowledge (Dostál, 2015). There are four basic steps to problem-solving according to this theory.

  1. Becoming Aware of the problem
    Sometimes people can be unaware of the problems around them or their problematic behavior. The first step towards solving a problem is recognizing that it is there.
  2. Perception of the problem
    The next step in resolving an issue is perceiving the problem in the right way–meaning you recognize the situation or behavior as a problem.
  3. Willingness to deal with the problem
    Next, you have to be willing to deal with the problem. Some people are able to perceive the problems in their life but a variety of factors may cause them to be unwilling to do anything to change.
  4. Willingness to solve the problem
    After you feel willing to deal with the problem, you also need to be willing to do what needs to be done to resolve the issue. Knowing what needs to be done and following through with those actions are two very different steps. The solutions you are looking for can be found by taking the action you know needs to be taken.

Problem Solving Skills

There are several skills that you can employ to help solve a problem. Those skills are listed below with a short explanation of how they can be applied to problem-solving. If you struggle to respond to problems effectively, try developing these skills within yourself to create better outcomes.

🙋‍♀️Communication​ and Collaboration – If time allows, talking about your issue can help identify solutions you had not thought about or allow you to ask for help from someone with more experience. Communicating about your problems is a great way to get a different perspective.
Many problems require collaboration and effective communication to find solutions. Problem solvers excel in working with others, seeking input and feedback, and effectively conveying ideas and information to reach a consensus and implement solutions collectively.

🧠Analytical Thinking – Thoroughly understanding a problem allows you to formulate the best solution. Try looking at the issue from a different perspective or gathering data to create the solution with the best possibility for success. This includes breaking down complex problems into smaller components, identifying patterns, and understanding cause-and-effect relationships.

📃Exercising Sound Judgment – When it comes to effective problem-solving, having good judgment plays a crucial role. For instance, there are instances where the short term simplest solution may turn out to be the least favorable option in the long run. Assessing the relative importance between a quick short-term fix and a solid long-term solution is a key aspect of resolving problems.

🎨Creativity – Solutions to problems are as diverse as the problems themselves. Creating the right solution often requires creative thinking, especially if it is a problem, you haven’t encountered before. This requires you to think outside the box and explore unconventional solutions. They generate new ideas, consider alternative perspectives, and embrace innovative approaches to overcome challenges. 

🔗Decision-Making – Identifying and executing the most appropriate solution is the final step in solving a problem. Taking action is the only way to create a solution. When you struggle to make decisions, this can impact your ability to solve problems. Simple Steps that helps taking effective decisions are

  • evaluating different options, 
  • weighing the pros and cons, and
  • selecting the most suitable course of action.
  • Implementing the chosen alternatives
  • Evaluating the efficacy of the effort at problem-solving


  • Dostál, J. (2015). Theory of problem-solving. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 174, 2798–2805.
  • D’Zurilla, T. J., & Goldfried, M. R. (1971). Problem-solving and behavior modification. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 78(1), 107–126.
  • Malouff, J., Thorsteinsson, E., & Schutte, N. (2007). The efficacy of problem-solving therapy in reducing mental and physical health problems: A meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 27(1), 46–57.


Sajid Ahamed is a “Certified Trainer of NLP” and organizes John Grinder approved New Code NLP and NLP Master Practitioner Certifications  Courses in India and the Middle East. He has more than 1000 hours of coaching experience and is an ICF accredited Professional Certified Coach (PCC). Apart from the Trainings, he covers a  wide niche of coaching including Relationship Coaching, Parenting Coaching, Leadership Coaching.

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Demystifying Self-Consciousness

What is self-consciousness, what causes it, and how do you overcome it? 

Are you preoccupied with how other people perceive you? Do you frequently feel concerned about potentially offending or upsetting others? Are you anxious about performing in front of an audience? If so, it’s possible that you are experiencing self-consciousness.

Experts who research self-consciousness suggest that it’s natural for people to alternate between self-reflection and focusing on others. At times, we may consider our own thoughts, emotions, and actions, while at other times we may focus on those of others. The degree to which we engage in self-reflection is believed to indicate our level of self-consciousness. Based on this broad understanding of self-consciousness, researchers propose that there are two distinct types of self-consciousness.


  1. Private Self-Consciousness – 
    Habitual attendance to our thoughts, motives, and feelings.
  2. Public Self-Consciousness –
    The awareness of oneself as a social object. This person might have concerns about how they appear to others (Turner, Carver,  Scheier, & Ickes, 1978). 

Public self-consciousness is sometimes further divided into two types:

  1. Style Consciousness – 
    Awareness of our behaviors as they are observed by others.
  2. Appearance Consciousness – 
    Awareness of how we look, physically, to others (Takishima-Lacasa, 2014).

Private self-consciousness is also sometimes divided into two types:

  1. Internal state awareness. Awareness of feelings and physical responses.
  2. Self-reflectiveness. Tendency to reflect on the past, ourselves, and our motivations  (Takishima-Lacasa, 2014).

Self-Conscious Emotions

When we feel self-conscious, we might experience a variety of self-conscious emotions. They are:

Shame, Guilt, Pride, Embarrassment, Jealousy, Empathy


According to Tracy and Robins (2004), we tend to feel self-conscious emotions when we perceive that we have met or fallen short of certain expectations or standards we set for ourselves. 

For example, this can lead to feelings of pride if we feel we have succeeded or shame if we feel we have failed. Although these emotions may not always be enjoyable, they play an important role in driving our behavior. They can motivate us to strive for more, encourage us to behave in ways that foster social connections, and inspire us to be more compassionate. 

Neuroscience behind Self Consciousness

Self-consciousness involves heightened self-awareness in relation to others and has been linked to activity in brain regions such as the prefrontal cortex, insula, and amygdala. The prefrontal cortex, particularly the medial prefrontal cortex, is involved in social information processing and self-monitoring. The insula plays a role in emotional processing, with studies suggesting a link to heightened self-awareness and anxiety in social situations. The amygdala, involved in processing emotions and threat detection, has been associated with social anxiety and self-consciousness. Although the neuroscience of self-consciousness is complex and ongoing, studies suggest it involves multiple brain regions and processes.

Can We Overcome Self-Consciousness

Self-consciousness generally develops when we are young. Although it can get easier in adulthood, it doesn’t always. If we were worried about how others thought about us when we were young, we can sometimes bring these habits with us. That’s why learning how to change these thought processes can be useful. So, here are some tips to overcome self-consciousness.

Self-consciousness can be a challenging emotion to manage, but there are several strategies you can use to overcome it. Here are some tips to help you feel more comfortable and confident in social situations:

  1. 😊Build Self Trust: Self-consciousness involves questioning our thoughts, emotions, and actions. To overcome it, we must learn to trust ourselves and make our own decisions.
  2. 🤗Practice self-compassion: When you’re feeling self-conscious, it’s easy to become overly critical of yourself. Instead, try practicing self-compassion by treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer to a friend.
  3. 🎯Focus on the present moment: Self-consciousness often arises when we’re worrying about the past or the future. By focusing on the present moment and being fully engaged in what’s happening around you, you can reduce feelings of anxiety and self-doubt.
  4. 😵Challenge negative self-talk: Negative self-talk can be a major source of self-consciousness. Try to identify any negative thoughts or beliefs you have about yourself and challenge them with evidence that contradicts them.
  5. 🧠Cultivate mindfulness: Mindfulness exercises, such as deep breathing or meditation, can help you stay present and focused, reducing feelings of self-consciousness and anxiety.
  6. 🎉Set realistic expectations: Setting unrealistic expectations for yourself can fuel feelings of self-doubt and anxiety. Instead, focus on setting achievable goals and celebrating your progress along the way.
  7. 🤝Seek support: It can be helpful to talk to a trusted friend or therapist about your feelings of self-consciousness. Having someone to listen and offer support can help you feel more confident and less alone.

Remember that overcoming self-consciousness is a process that takes time and effort. By practicing self-compassion, mindfulness, and challenging negative thoughts, you can begin to feel more comfortable and confident in social situations.

A coach can help you overcome self-consciousness by providing support, guidance, and practical strategies for managing your emotions. They can help you identify the root causes of your self-consciousness, challenge negative thought patterns, and develop greater self-compassion and self-confidence. Through personalized coaching sessions, a coach can also help you set achievable goals and monitor your progress, building your self-awareness and helping you feel more comfortable and confident in social situations. Overall, a coach can provide valuable tools and support for overcoming self-consciousness and achieving greater self-awareness and personal growth.

NLP can be an effective tool for helping individuals overcome self-consciousness and achieve greater self-awareness and personal growth. Some NLP techniques that have proven very effective are

  • Reframing
  • Anchoring
  • Visualization
  • Meta Modelling
  • Perceptual Position exercises

An NLP Coach can help you to reframe negative thoughts, build confidence,
and develop a more positive self-image.


  • Takishima-Lacasa, J. Y., Higa-McMillan, C. K., Ebesutani, C., Smith, R. L., & Chorpita, B. F. (2014). Self-consciousness and social anxiety in youth: The Revised Self-Consciousness Scales for Children. Psychological assessment, 26(4), 1292.
  • Tracy, J. L., & Robins, R. W. (2004). “Putting the Self Into Self-Conscious Emotions: A Theoretical Model”. Psychological Inquiry, 15(2), 103-125.
  • Turner, R. G., Carver, C. S., Scheier, M. F., & Ickes, W. (1978). Correlates of self-consciousness. Journal of Personality Assessment, 42(3), 285-289.

Sajid Ahamed is a “Certified Trainer of NLP” and organizes John Grinder approved New Code NLP and NLP Master Practitioner Certifications  Courses in India and the Middle East. He has more than 1000 hours of coaching experience and is an ICF accredited Professional Certified Coach (PCC). Apart from the Trainings, he covers a  wide niche of coaching including Relationship Coaching, Parenting Coaching, Leadership Coaching.

To be updated with latest trends in Coaching and psychotherapy, join our Facebook Private Group.

For Further networking, follow us on Facebook | Instagram | Youtube

Managing Toxic Relationships

We are designed to crave companionship and support. What’s surprising is the extent people are willing to go to keep things the way they are. Now, we all know that Life doesn’t stay the same and is not supposed to. Certain relationships stand the test of time while others just follow their designed course and then fizzle out. And statistics just show that humans prefer familiarity over the unknown. An individual would rather be in an abusive relationship than choosing freedom and the unknown. The Unknown is scary, the unknown can pose challenges, the unknown can be a frightful place and hence the decision to stay.

Let’s look into detail what that decision entails. 

🧠It can rob you of all mental peace– Its like a freight train constantly running through your mind. No rest. No vacations. Just a long arduous tumultuous ride that makes you feel like a nobody. This inner dialogue can potentially damage an individual’s entire life and render them powerless to make a decision independently. 

😣Sticking to the Status Quo- Sometimes toxic environments can have a paralyzing impact on the individual’s psyche. They are unable to view themselves in a different setting. Its like an alternate avenue is either hidden from their reasoning or they willfully choose to disregard it.

So, What’s the key to break free of these negative patterns of thought? Let’s take a look.

Step 1️⃣– Acknowledge the situation. Ask yourself, is this the place where I want to be two years from now? If the answer is No, then you need to start taking systematic steps, starting today.

Step 2️⃣– Acknowledge that friends and family can sometimes be toxic. Yes, you heard that right. Sometimes the closest relationships can lead to your downfall. Sometimes, individuals are not willing to acknowledge this fact. Not everything that glitters is gold.

Step 3️⃣– What are you willing to give up on? Sure, it’s familiar. Is that familiarity inching you towards your goals or is it playing havoc with your mental peace? If the familiar is making you miserable, then you need to reassess the situation. 

Step 4️⃣– Are you willing to have unfamiliar and conflicting conversations? Toxic environments cause people to be on edge and ready for fights. Are you willing to take a stand and state your point of view knowing that this will lead to a gigantic escalation? 

Step 5️⃣– Are you willing to make bold and difficult choices? Inevitably breaking free of toxicity will cause a momentary sense of disorientation and you will lose your bearings for a while because this is unfamiliar territory. Are you willing to face the unknown head on?

Step 6️⃣- Have a Stupendous Plan B. Most of the time individuals aren’t able to Change because they don’t have alternative options. Have a Plan B that will cushion your fall and which will serve as a resting place until you are back on your feet.

Step 7️⃣– Have a supportive network of individuals who will see nothing but the best in YOU and cheer you on. Remember, the quality of your associations has a direct bearing on the productivity of your life. 

Step 8️⃣- Stop setting yourself on fire to keep someone else warm. 

Step 9️⃣– Remember, you are not defined by people’s perceptions. People’s outlook may be frayed and judgmental. Stop basing your sense of worth on people’s approval.

Step 🔟– Take full ownership and accountability for the choices you will take going forward.

If you have encountered toxicity in your relationships and career then let this be a reminder to take stock and change the outcome. Most of the time we discount ourselves and believe that its too far gone. Why berate yourself if you have been a victim?

Stop living life based on false labels.
There’s always help and support available, should you choose to accept it.

If you’re in a toxic relationship, coaching can help you identify and address the behaviors and patterns that are causing harm in your relationship. Here are some ways coaching can help:

  1. 👿Recognize Toxic Behaviors: A coach can help you identify the toxic behaviors in your relationship, such as verbal or physical abuse, manipulation, or control.
  2. 🔃Understand Patterns: Coaching can help you understand how these toxic behaviors have become patterns in your relationship and how they are affecting you emotionally, mentally, and physically.
  3. 🔳Set Boundaries: A coach can help you set healthy boundaries to protect yourself from toxic behavior and establish guidelines for how you want to be treated in your relationship.
  4. 🗣Improve Communication: Coaching can help you improve your communication skills, so you can express your needs and feelings in a way that is assertive, respectful, and effective.
  5. Develop Coping Strategies: Coaching can help you develop coping strategies to deal with the stress and emotional turmoil that comes with being in a toxic relationship.
  6. 🧾Create an Exit Plan: Losing will not always amount to a loss. Sometimes you have to lose those toxic relationships and bad habits to create a space for better things. If you decide to leave the relationship, a coach can help you create an exit plan that prioritizes your safety and well-being.
  7. 🤝Find Support: A coach can help you find support, whether it’s through therapy, support groups, or trusted friends and family.

As a relationship Coach, I can assure you will embark on a path where you will attract the right associations and opportunities. 


Sajid Ahamed is a “Certified Trainer of NLP” and organizes John Grinder approved New Code NLP and NLP Master Practitioner Certifications  Courses in India and the Middle East. He has more than 1000 hours of coaching experience and is an ICF accredited Professional Certified Coach (PCC). Apart from the Trainings, he covers a  wide niche of coaching including Relationship Coaching, Parenting Coaching, Leadership Coaching.

To be updated with latest trends in Coaching and psychotherapy, join our Facebook Private Group.

For Further networking, follow us on Facebook | Instagram | Youtube