Lately, I have been focusing heavily on self-compassion with my clients. I have found that self-compassion plays a key role in mental health and wellbeing and can impact on someone’s ability to cope with any stress they may face in their life. I’ve observed that people who show themselves compassion are more resilient and able to face and cope with difficult situations compared with those who show little self-compassion. Building self-compassion is sort of like strengthening a muscle – when you use it in the beginning it can be difficult – it may be such a different way of responding to yourself! However, with practice it becomes easier and easier. You cannot build a muscle over night, it is something that takes persistence and time – this is the same for self-compassion. I will be publishing a number of self-compassion exercises to help you to strengthen your self-compassion muscles. Keep a record of your early experiences of your self-compassion practice so you can see your progress over time!
Here is the first exercise for you to try:
HOW WOULD YOU TREAT A FRIEND?
Grab a pen and paper and answer the following questions:
1. Think about a time when a close friend or loved one was struggling in some way. They may have been having a rough time, or feeling badly about themselves. How would you respond to your friend in this situation? What would you typically do or say? In what tone would you talk to your friend?
2. Now, think about a time when you yourself have been struggling in some way. How do you respond to yourself in these situations? What thoughts do you have, what do you do or say to yourself? In what tone do you talk to yourself?
3. REFLECT: Did you notice a difference between these two situations? If so, ask yourself why. What factors come into play that may lead your to treat yourself or others differently.
4. If you responded to yourself in the same way you responded to your friend – how might things change for you?
Try treating yourself like a good friend and see what happens.