When we practice self-compassion and acceptance of ourselves and all we are struggling with, we tend to feel better. Too often we try to push down our negative emotions, or emotions we are taught to see as "negative" (like anxiety, sadness, grief etc.), instead of recognizing that all emotions are part of our experience as human. When we shame ourselves for being human, we end up often of having more difficulty managing our emotions, focusing and being productive and getting through our days. When we practice self-compassion regularly, we often find we can more easily manage our emotions when they arise, focus more readily and give compassion to all those around us.
Dr. Kristin Neff has done research and practice in the powerful positive impacts of practicing self-compassion. The below self-compassion exercise is taken from her work (https://self-compassion.org/exercise-2-self-compassion-break/). It can be a quick 5-minute activity to do once a day, or as needed throughout the day:
- Take a moment to call to mind a difficult/stressful/painful recent experience.
- Notice what your body feels like when you call this difficult/stressful/painful recent experience to mind.
- Take a moment to say to yourself "this is painful," or "this is stressful" or "this is a moment of suffering," or some variation that works for you to acknowledge and be mindful to your own experience. It is a way of saying to yourself "I see you; I hear you. I notice you there."
- Then acknowledge that you are not alone in your suffering, that it is a common human experience. You might say "I am not alone in this feeling," or "everyone struggles sometimes."
- Then be kind to yourself. If it feels comfortable, wrap your arms around yourself, or touch your chest softly and say to yourself "may I give myself compassion," or "may I be patient with myself," or "may I give myself the forgiveness I deserve."
- Notice what your body feels like when you give yourself self-compassion and acceptance and how different that is from when you started.
To learn more about self-compassion and other self-compassion practice, visit Dr. Kristin Neff's website here: https://self-compassion.org/the-three-elements-of-self-compassion-2/