Kristin Neff, Ph.D. received her doctorate in human development from the University of California at Berkeley in 1997 and is now an associate professor in human development at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research centers on self-concept development, specifically the development of self-compassion. She teaches workshops on self- compassion for clinicians, alongside Chris Germer at Harvard University. She is the author of the book Self-Compassion: How to Stop Judging Yourself and Embrace the Joy of Being Human. Kristin lives in the countryside in Elgin, Texas, with her husband, Rupert Isaacson—an author and a human rights activist—and their young son, Rowan. She and her family were recently featured in the film and book called The Horse Boy, about their journey through Mongolia to search for a cure for their son’s autism. She is also the co-founder of the Horse Boy Foundation. (www.Self-Compassion.org; www.HorseBoyFoundation.org)
Though I had met her husband, Rupert, I finally had the privilege of meeting Kristin and their son, Rowan, in person when she graciously agreed to be interviewed for the book and invited me to dinner. We filmed both her and Rupert’s interviews at their home that evening in Elgin, TX. Kristin is beyond lovely, funny, and sharp, and together she and Rupert are a unique and impressive couple. You can go witness that in the beautiful movie and book The Horse Boy. I didn’t know what Kristin’s epiphany would be, but I assumed it probably had something to do with that project. Once again, surprise! It was not what I was expecting, and her epiphany of self-compassion changed something inside me, right on the spot. I use a quote from her interview as the epigraph to the book because it metaphorically describes what happens when you open a book – you don’t know what you are going to find but you’re willing to walk through this new doorway – and it also describes exactly what I have experienced and learned from this project and feel is very true about epiphanies in general:
The epiphany was like life opened a doorway, and my job was to walk through it. I didn’t know what I was going to find. I didn’t know what was going to happen. But in life, you don’t ever know what’s going to happen. What I do know is that as life continues to open these doors, I feel safe enough and trusting enough to walk through them.
Here is Kristin’s 2013 TEDx Talk: “The Space Between Self-Esteem and Self Compassion”