Self-Compassion Snippets - Part 2
Hi and welcome back to my blog here at Kites & Angels Life Coaching!!!
It's a beautiful sunny, Autumn day here in Tauranga, and I have just come back from enjoying fish and chips on the waterfront with the hubby - simple pleasures!!!
In today's blog, as promised, I am going to continue the theme of Self-Compassion.
Last time got quite technical about how self-compassion is valuable to our mental health, and exactly how it works, but today is a bit less techy lol.
Catching our thoughts
Now that we know how valuable self-compassion can be, it's time to start putting it into practice...
The first thing we need to do, as the title suggests, is "catch our thoughts".
How many times have you found yourself in a situation where something hasn't gone the way you planned and you immediately start hearing that negative little voice in your head (mine's called Boris!) telling you that you're "stupid" or "useless" or 'nobody likes you"???
Exactly!!! I'm sure you were very easily able to remember a time when that happened - it is so common, and people with lower self-esteem tend to do it more often (but that's another blog post!!!)
So - when these thoughts pop, unbidden into our heads, what do we do???
Firstly we "catch" the thought and acknowledge that it has come into our heads. Taking the time to just recognise that we are going through a distressing experience, and to acknowledge the way that it is making us feel is a very important first step.
Apart from the negative voice in our heads, what else is our body experiencing???
𝐃𝐨 𝐰𝐞 𝐟𝐞𝐞𝐥 𝐚𝐧𝐱𝐢𝐨𝐮𝐬?
𝐇𝐚𝐬 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐛𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐡 𝐛𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐫𝐚𝐩𝐢𝐝?
𝐀𝐫𝐞 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐩𝐚𝐥𝐦𝐬 𝐬𝐰𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐲?
Really take the time to recognise that you are going through a difficult time, and also to remind yourself that self-compassion is the key!!!
Slow breathing is a great way to begin to calm your thoughts and pave the way for you to start showing yourself self-compassion.
I will also be posting regularly in my Facebook group Goal-Driven Mums Making Changes so be sure to request to join to get all the latest posts from me.
Breathing exercises definitely get easier with practice, so even if you struggle the first few times you try one of the techniques, don't give up - Controlled breathing and meditation can be sooooo calming!!!
PLEASE NOTE: - I am NOT a medical professional, so if you start to feel breathless or light-headed doing any of the breathing exercises, please STOP IMMEDIATELY.
Once you are practised at slowing your breathing when you recognise distressing thoughts or feelings taking over, you can add things like basic imagery into your practice.
What comes to mind when I say "Imagine a beach?"
Do you recall beach days when you were a child and remember the happy feelings you felt then?
Do you recall the smell of salty water and seaweed?
Do you imagine the sun blazing down on you, as you relax on the sand with a book?
All of us experience "imagery" in different ways.
Personally, I am not very good at creating VISUAL images in my mind - and for a long time I thought that I couldn't meditate because of this! But I have since learned that "imagery" can be experienced as thoughts, feelings, smells, tastes, sights and sounds or any combination of these.
How do you experience imagery??? For me it's more a re-creation of feelings and thoughts.
Research shows that imagery can be very powerful in triggering emotions.
Our brain is not very good at distinguishing an image from reality, so it will often process and respond to an image, as if it is something occurring for real.
This is why Imagery, can be so effective in learning how to be self-compassionate.
To build self-compassion we need to first stimulate compassionate feelings, and then direct those feelings towards ourselves when we are struggling. Because we now know that images are a really effective way to activate feelings, we can use this knowledge to our advantage.
With this in mind, if we can find an image that evokes compassionate
feelings within us, we can use this as a tool to help direct compassion towards ourselves.
Imagine that you are with someone who you love - maybe your partner, a best friend, or a child - someone you would want to be there for unconditionally.
They are struggling with a situation in their life.
Close your eyes, and take a few deep breathes to get yourself into the mindset, and think:
- What would you say to them?
- How would you talk to them?
- How would you react?
Don't get caught up in details - just allow yourself to experience the warmth and compassion that you would experience for this person, the gentle way in which you would steer them away from their negative emotions, the positive way in which you would encourage them to consider their situation.
Think about your emotions and your tone of voice.
Now allow yourself to sit with those feelings and thoughts - let them wrap you up like a warm blanket.
Especially pay attention to the compassionate feelings this image generates. See if you can allow these feelings to take over and grow inside you, almost feeling your whole body fill with compassion.
When you open your eyes, write down your responses to the following:
I ask you to WRITE these down because I have found that writing helps people to really commit to thoughts, ideas and intentions, much more so than just THINKING them does.
Did you find this exercise useful in triggering feelings of compassion within you??? I hope so!!!
If so, practice bringing this image to mind regularly, so that the image becomes easily accessible and can be used as your ‘on’ button when you need to feel self-compassion. You could even carry a photo of this person with you, as a visual reminder, or place it somewhere in your daily life where you notice you tend to be your most self-critical (e.g., next to your bathroom mirror if you notice you tend to criticise your appearance a lot).
The bathroom mirror would definitely be a great choice for me!
Who would your person be?
Finally, think about your responses above - and about your facial expression, body language etc.
Research has shown that feelings can be created by adopting particular facial expressions and postures - both positive and negative!
So, really think about how you imagined yourself when you were showing compassion, and adopt those same attributes as you go about your day, and especially when you want to be self-compassionate.
In my next blog, we will look further at ways in which we can practise self-compassion more easily and consistently in our lives.
If you haven't already, please download the FREE Worry Tree Exercise here.
Take care and keep smiling,