Many people make promises to themselves and many people break those promises. This can be a very disheartening and repetitive cycle which can affect our mental health negatively. I am going to suggest something for you to try which might go against what you are used to; self compassion.
To simplify things, compassion is basically being nice, caring with tenderness and kindness. Nothing complicated, nothing far reaching.
The tricky part comes when we try to do this for ourselves because we are taught from an early age that we need to put others first and being selfish is seen as a bad thing.
Being self compassionate is the one thing you can do to improve your mental health and wellbeing. But How do we do this?
- Think of a situation in your life that is causing you stress, such as a health problem, relationship problem, work problem, or some other struggle.
- Choose a problem in the mild to moderate range, not a big problem, as we want to build the resource of self-compassion gradually.
- Visualize the situation clearly in your mind’s eye. What is the setting? Who is saying what to whom? What is happening? What might happen?
- Can you feel discomfort in your body as you bring this difficulty to mind? If not, choose a slightly more difficult problem.
- Now, try saying to yourself: “This is a moment of suffering.” That’s mindfulness. Perhaps other wording speaks to you better. Some options are: This hurts. Ouch. This is stressful.
- Now, try saying to yourself: “Suffering is a part of life.” That’s common humanity. Other options include: I’m not alone. Everyone experiences this, just like me. This is how it feels when people struggle in this way.
- Now, offer yourself the gesture of soothing touch that you discovered in the previous exercise. And try saying to yourself: “May I be kind to myself” or “May I give myself what I need.”
- Perhaps there are particular words of kindness and support that you need to hear right now in this difficult situation. Some options may be: May I accept myself as I am. May I begin to accept myself as I am. May I forgive myself. May I be strong. May I be patient.
- If you’re having difficulty finding the right words, imagine that a dear friend or loved one is having the same problem as you. What would you say to this person? What simple message would you like to deliver to your friend, heart to heart?
- Now see if you can offer the same message to yourself.