Author: Katie Leoni, Psy.D.
In part one of this series, we introduced you to three components self-compassion and highlighted the main differences between self-compassion and self-esteem. Today we will teach you numerous ways to practice self-compassion in your life. Since there is a wide array of ways to practice self-compassion, try out the ones below a few times and see which ones resonate with you. As with any new skill, it’s like working a new muscle. It may take some time to get used to but as you continue to practice it gets easier and more automatic.
Ideas for Practicing Self-Compassion
There are various guided meditations that exist. Dr. Kristin Neff's self-compassion website has seven great ones to choose from, all of which can be downloaded to your computer.
As you breathe in and out, see if you can allow yourself to enjoy the sensations of breathing. Let it be a pleasant sensation and enjoy it as deeply as you can. Repeat for five breaths.
Ask yourself: How would you treat a friend? What would I tell a friend in this instance?
Often times, we are far less critical and judgmental of our friends than we are ourselves. These questions allow you to tap into a more compassionate stance.
Ask yourself if there is any part of you that resists self-compassion. If so, ask that part, “How are you trying to keep me safe?” Can you attend to those needs rather than attacking?
Journaling: Critical Voice vs. Compassionate Voice
One a piece of paper, write for 1-2 minutes in a critical voice. Then, switch to writing in a compassionate voice. Notice the difference between the way these two voices sound and the way that they make you feel. It’s likely the compassionate voice makes you feel good compared to the critical voice, why not try using that voice? Try saying to the critical voice, “I know you criticize me because you are suffering. I want to care for you.”
Wrap your arms around yourself and give yourself a big hug for five breaths. Try saying, “I love you just as you are.” Notice how these words make you feel.
Make Yourself Comfortable
Check in with your body. Ask if needs anything to feel more comfortable. To stretch, walk, relax, sleep, breathe? Give yourself permission to enjoy whatever action you take.
Put your hands on your heart and say to yourself, “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be safe. May you be loved.” Repeat four times.
Identify Positives About Yourself
Name three things that you like about yourself. Notice how receiving recognition makes them that much stronger.
Notice an unpleasant emotion.
Allow for it to be for a few moments.
Watch it Go.
If you're interested in learning how self-compassion can help you and other ways to incorporate it into your life, please contact us to schedule a free phone consultation.
Diana Gordon, Psy.D., Kari Kagan Psy.D., and Katie Leoni, Psy.D.
Drs. Gordon, Kagan, and Leoni practice psychotherapy in downtown San Francisco and Oakland. Their areas of expertise include anxiety, sleep, stress, depression, and addiction. They blog about these topics to provide research-based information about common problems and strategies to help manage them.