Give yourself a Self-Compassion Break

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One of the most popular things I teach is called ‘mindful self-compassion’. We give ourselves compassion not to feel better but because we suffer. If you’re having a bad day, if your felling sad, overwhelmed or stressed-out this is the moment to you’re your wee self some compassion.

Self-compassion is not selfish, it’s wise because its only when we are feeling ok with ourselves that we can really help others.  If we’re feeling out of sorts we’re not going to be much use to our colleagues, friends or family.

The practice is really simple but it does take a lot of courage to give it a try – when you do you will be amazed an our effective and profound the results can be.  There are 3 steps in the self-compassion break.

This exercise was devised by Kristen Neff from the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion.

Step 1. Awareness of Suffering

When you are aware (mindful) of difficulty or suffering in your life you recognise and acknowledge it by saying to yourself something like: ‘This is a moment of suffering or ‘this hurts’, ‘ouch’, ‘this is stressful’.

Step 2. Common Humanity

Realise that suffering is part of life, that everyone suffers and other people have also or are also at this moment feeling how you are feeling.  This is called ‘common humanity’.  You can say something like: “I am not alone”, “We all struggle in our lives. This is how it feels when people struggle in this way.”

Step 3. Being kind to self.

Now put your hand over your heart saying to yourself: “May I be kind to myself” or “May I accept myself as I am”, “May I forgive myself”, “May I be safe”, “May I be strong.” Whatever words you need to hear that you find soothing and comforting.  If you find it difficult to come up with the right words imagine what you would say to a friend who was suffering in the way you currently are.

I’d love to know how you get on with this practice.

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