A Self-Compassion Exercise

Have a pen and paper ready for this.

  1. Find a spot and moment for yourself.
  2. Sit or lie quietly and comfortably close your eyes.
  3. Take a few deep breaths to centre yourself. 
  4. Focus on your breath, coming in and going out.
  5. Consider a mistake that you recently made, or something that you criticized yourself for. 
  6. Take a moment and open your eyes.
  7. Write down the self-critical remark you said to yourself.
  8. Next, take a moment, and think of a self-comforting or kind phrase that relates to the situation above. Write it down. Make sure it feels comfortable for you to repeat it to yourself.
  9. Return to taking long, deep breaths. Quietly repeat the comforting, kind phrase you have chosen. Notice how your body responds.
  10. Write how it felt to comfort rather than criticize yourself.

Use this every time you find yourself being self-critical.

If you find being kind to yourself is difficult, then maybe start with more neutral comments, such as: “Being self-critical doesn’t feel that great.”, or “Saying these critical remarks to myself isn’t really helping me.”, or “I’d like to say something kinder to myself than the critical remarks I am making right now.”

What would you like to hear from someone who cares about you? What would you say to someone you cared about if you heard them being self-critical?

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