How do you “do” Self-Compassion when you notice the Critical Mind?
OK, perhaps you are game to experiment with this Self-Compassion business – but you are not sure how. So let’s say your awareness has caught that harsh voice criticizing you – and it weighs you down, or punches you in the gut, or leaves you feeling prickly. How do you work with that?
Specifically, you could say to yourself in a soft and kind voice, “This is so hard right now. I am really struggling with this. When I make a mistake, I beat myself up. It’s hard for me to make mistakes.”
I think for most of us, this is extremely challenging:
- It may feel false or insincere – like you have to fake it
- It can make you feel silly or it seems ridiculous
- It is hard to see how doing this is helpful in the least
Frankly I think doing this seems so hard because it opens us up to feeling vulnerable. And most of us did not receive this kind of care growing up. So we don’t really get how to go about it – and it feels foreign and uncomfortable.
How to Get Started with Self-Compassion
So how do you get there? How do you get started? How do you embark on this path of Self-Compassion?
1. Start Simple — when you notice you are being hard on yourself – pause, take a long slow deep breath, (maybe two or three even), try to modulate your voice to be softer, practice saying to yourself, “This is really hard.” or“I am having a hard time right now.” That’s it – stop there for now.
If you just do that, you have made huge strides. This is a practice – like yoga or meditation – keep coming back to it, just like every breath comes over and over again.
2. Acknowledge your doubts that come up or the discomfort that you may feel. For example, you can say to yourself, “This feels silly – I’m not sure if this is doing any good”. Naming it helps ease our “resistance” to it.
3. Try a little tenderness –You could also rest your hand on your heart or give yourself a hug or a caress. The research shows that physical touch even from yourself to yourself releases the oxytocin hormone – which promotes relaxation, and reduces anxiety and stress.
4. Meditate – You could also start doing a loving kindness meditation. At first, you may not feel a noticeable type of benefit. However, it does start to change the wiring in your brain – it helps lay down the grooves for a practice of self-acceptance & self-love, and taps into the energy of accessing loving kindness in this form.
I love helping people apply this in their own life when I’m working with them in therapy. If you ‘d like to talk about how to do that, call me (503.224.6559) at my NW counseling office so we can consult over the phone.