Throughout our lives, no matter our age, there are times of change and growth. Connecting with one’s self through a “Self-Compassion Break” each day is how you can increase your emotional well-being and build greater resilience in the face of such stressful times.
Let’s break it down. Self-compassion – as defined by this expert in the field, Kristin Neff – can be understood as treating yourself the way you would treat a good friend who was struggling. Think of it as making friends with yourself. The more self-compassionate you are, the less likely you will be prone to feeling depressed, isolated, anxious, or stressed.
The “self-compassion break” exercise is rooted in these three key components: self-kindness, mindfulness, and common humanity. These elements serve to open your heart to your own suffering, so that you can learn to give yourself what you truly need. This exercise can help you to recognize that you are not alone in your pain, and to encourage an open-minded acceptance of the struggle you are facing.
Let’s get started. Here’s the “Self-Compassion Break” exercise to practice. This can be done by yourself or with a parent, friend, someone you cherish:
1. Think of a situation in your life that is difficult or causing you stress. Please choose a situation that is not the worst or most difficult in your life, but that something that is causing you some discomfort.
2. Where in the body do you feel this discomfort, as caused by the stressful situation?
3. Now, say to yourself: “In this moment, a part of me is struggling.”
· This is mindfulness.
· You might choose to say, “Wow, this feels awful,” or “this sucks,” or maybe, “this is stressful.”
4. Now say to yourself: “This kind of struggle is a part of life.”
· This is common humanity. Lots of other people struggle in this same way.
· You might choose to say, “Other kids feel this way too,” or “I’m not alone with this feeling,” or “This is a part of being a teen and so many others kids struggle just like me.” Or “All teens feel this at some time or another …!”
5. Now, offer yourself a kind and soothing, supportive touch – maybe a hand on your heart, or another gesture that feels right for you. Feel the warmth of your hand coming through to your body.
6. Now, saying to yourself: “May I be kind to myself.” Remembering that in life, you’re going to go through many transitions and changes. So be gentle with yourself.
· This is the self-kindness component.
· For more personal language, ask “what do I need to hear right now?” Or if you have trouble finding what words to say, ask yourself “What would I say to a good friend who was going through this? Can I say those words to myself?”
o May I give myself the compassion that I need.
o May I learn to accept myself as I am.
o May I forgive myself.
o May I be strong.
o May I be safe.
o May I know that I deserve to be loved too.
· And if the “May I” feels strange to you, or like you are asking permission, you can always leave that out and simply say: “I wish to accept myself just as I am,” or “I am strong and willing to accept myself as I am right now.”
7. Simply notice what you are feeling.
8. In closing, consider the three components of self-compassion—which did you find to be the most meaningful to you and/or important to acknowledge?
· Mindfulness (“This is a moment of suffering.”)
· Common humanity (“I am not alone in my suffering.”)
· Self-Kindness (physical touch or soothing voice; “May I be kind to myself.”)
Greater Good in Education. Link: https://ggie.berkeley.edu/practice/a-moment-for-me-a-self-compassion-break-for-teens/#tab__2