Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of just ignoring your pain with a “stiff upper lip” mentality, you stop to tell yourself “this is really difficult right now,” how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?
Instead of mercilessly judging and criticising yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect? That is why we have shared a quick and easy self compassion inventory and break for you to try.
Self Compassion Inventory
Here are a few questions to help you gauge the strength of your self-compassion muscle:
- Where does the inner critic pop up? At work? When you walk past the mirror? In relationships? In relation to parenting?
- What are the repercussions of being so hard on yourself? Does it add to the depression loop?
- When something difficult arises in life and you fall under stress, were do you rank on the priority list of people to take care of? Do you apply caring to your suffering or try to avoid it?
- When things are tough, do you tend to compare yourself with others, thinking that they have it together? Or do you have a balanced perspective, knowing that all humans struggle?
- What would the days, weeks, and months ahead be like if your stress and inner struggles were met with more understanding and care?
Self Compassion Break
The self-compassion break involves using a set of memorised phrases to be used as a meditation when you are in need of self compassion:
- Put both hands on your heart, pause, and feel their warmth. You can also put your hands on any other place on your body that feels soothing and comforting, such as your belly or your face.
- Breathe deeply in and out
- Speak these words to yourself (out loud or silently) in a warm and caring tone:
This is a moment of suffering
Suffering is part of life
May I be kind to myself
May I give myself the compassion I need
The first phrase, “This is a moment of suffering” is designed to bring mindfulness to the fact that you’re in pain. Other possible wordings for this phrase are “I’m having a really tough time right now,” or “This hurts,” and so forth.
The second phrase “Suffering is part of life,” is designed to remind you that imperfection is part of the shared human experience. Other possible wordings are “Everyone feels this way sometimes,” “This is part of being human,” and so on.
The third phrase “May I be kind to myself in this moment” is designed to help bring a sense of caring concern to your present moment experience. Other possible wordings are “May I love and support myself right now” or “May I accept myself as I am” and so on.
The final phrase, “May I give myself the compassion I need,” firmly sets your intention to be self-compassionate. You might use other words such as “May I remember that I am worthy of compassion” or “May I give myself the same compassion I would give to a good friend,” and so on.
Find the four phrases that seem most comfortable for you, and memorise them. Then, the next time you judge yourself or have a difficult experience you can use these phrases as a way of reminding yourself to be self-compassionate. It’s a handy tool to help soothe and calm troubled states of mind.