What do you do when a close friend is really struggling, doubts his/her abilities, or is being unnecessarily self-critical?
It’s likely that you feel compassion and respond in an understanding and supportive way. Perhaps you offer kind words or a gentle hug.
What do you do when you are struggling, falling prey to self-doubt, or listening to your inner critic?
If you are like most people, you treat yourself pretty harshly.
So imagine what it would be like to offer yourself the same compassion, understanding, and caring attention you would offer to a close friend, whenever you need it most.
Psychologist Kristin Neff is one of the co-creators of the Mindful Self-Compassion program. According to Neff, self-compassion has three main components: mindfulness, a feeling of common humanity, and self-kindness. She recommends taking a “self-compassion break” whenever you’re going through a stressful experience.
- Notice that the situation is difficult and causing you stress.
- Say to yourself, “This is a moment of suffering” or “This hurts” or “This is stress.”
- Next, say to yourself, “Suffering is a part of life.” This is an acknowledgment of your common humanity. You might say instead, “I’m not alone” or “Other people feel this way.”
- Put your hands over your heart and feel their warmth and gentle touch on your chest. Say, “May I be kind to myself.” If it would be helpful in the specific situation, add another phrase such as “May I accept myself as I am” or “May I be strong” or “May I be patient.”
If you’d like to try the full 6-minute practice, a guided audio is available here.