Take a Break
I had pity party this morning. I've been stressed about several areas of my life and was having a difficult time seeing any end in sight. What I failed to remember is that as a therapist, I have the privilege of knowing countless exercises and tools to help me figure out what is going on. Why is it so hard to do as I preach to my clients day in and day out?! That's a question for another day. Just know that your therapist isn't the person who completely has their life in complete order. In fact, does anyone?
It wasn't until I thought about having to write another blog entry that I realized I was the one stressing myself out through my own self judgement. Being your own worst critic is one that gets me every time! So I decided to remind myself to be kind, not only to those around me, but to myself.
A big part of practicing Mindfulness that often gets overlooked is Self Compassion. We go through our days with this voice that constantly criticizes and judges us. When we become self aware we come to the realization that we were the ones that are sabotaging ourselves from success because of this mantra of self criticism and complete lack of self compassion!
I'm not going to lie and tell you that this is easy. Practicing Self Compassion takes work, persistence, and commitment. One of the first things that needs to happen is to figure out what belief that you have about yourself that isn't allowing you to be kind to yourself. That's a post of another time and often takes some therapy. However, there is no one stopping you from practicing Self Compassion and Mindfulness at whatever level you are at on your journey to a happier, healthier you! As many know, I'm a strong believer in tiny leaps making big changes. Maybe this exercise (which originally came from Dr. Kristin Neff psychologist to term the word "Self Compassion") is your tiny leap! If that's the case, wonderful and keep at it! Maybe this is a bigger step for you on your path to success. Fantastic! You'll get there! Either way, this is a great exercise you can do wherever you are when you're feeling stressed or down on yourself.
Are you ready? Let's begin.
Self Compassion Break (3-5 Min)
Take a deep breath and exhale slowly.
Think of the areas of your life that are causing you stress, discomfort, or any kind of lack of compassion for yourself. Bring it to the forefront of you mind and see if you can physically feel the emotional discomfort in your body.
Say to your self: This is a Moment of Suffering. Acknowledge it for what it is and bring yourself into the awareness of the moment (Mindfulness). Other alternative phrases to say is "Ouch" or "I'm Stressed" or whatever works for you in that moment.
Say to your self: Suffering is a Part of Life. Acknowledge that we all suffer and that as much as it sucks it is a part of life. There is relief in knowing that you aren't the first or the last to feel this way. Alternative phrases to say are "I'm not alone" and "We all suffer".
Adopt a soothing physical gesture. Many put their hands over their heart, tap their finger on their leg, or give themselves a quick hand massage. Again, this is your journey so do what floats your boat!
Say to your self: May I be Kind to Myself. Take a moment and ask yourself what you need to feel kindness in this moment. Is it a reminder to accept yourself as your are or that what is more important is learning from failure? Is it giving yourself another minute of deep breathing or gaining the courage to put down a personal boundary? Whatever it is, you have the power to be kind to yourself and get what you need. Some alternative phrases include "May I be strong", "I accept myself as I am", and "I'm learning to be kind to myself".
Take 1 more deep breath and exhale slowly.
That's it! It seems simple, but it is an important reminder how plain old mean we are to ourselves when things aren't going the way we think they should! Does this exercise solve everything? No. Like I've said in the past, if I had that magic pill I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be writing this right now. However, it helps and if used consistently I promise leads to better things. Life is tough enough without adding you hating on yourself on to this list!