Show Yourself Some Self-Compassion

Hard on Yourself: Try Some Self-Compassion

By Wendy Woods
In April 10, 2017

Discover what self-compassion is, why it’s important and experience a brief strategy for cultivating it in this 5 minute free audio.

Prefer to read it. Here is what is in the audio.


How often do you find yourself saying “I messed up”, “I should have done better”, “I am not good enough, strong enough, or smart enough”.  It seems that we have lots of compassion for other’s mistakes, their overwhelm or challenges but little for our own.  What I have discovered working with my coaching clients is that self-compassion is a critical skill. It’s essential to survive and thrive in our demanding always on and available world and manage our nasty inner critic.

First of all self-compassion doesn’t mean we don’t work hard or hold ourselves up to a high standard.  However, it does mean recognizing that we are human and might make mistakes, get tired or feel overwhelmed. Showing ourselves compassion means recognizing we are doing our best.  It’s showing ourselves the same compassion we would show to a friend. Self-compassion expert, Kristin Neff, describes it as changing our inner dialogue from critical to supportive, understanding, and caring.

Mindfulness Practice to Cultivate Greater Self-Compassion

Here is a mindfulness practice you can use to cultivate greater self-compassion.  If you are doing this at the office, find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed, close your office door or a sign indicating you are taking a break. You may want to start with 5 minutes and see if you can gradually build up from there.

Please find a comfortable seated position.  Let your eyes close, fully or partially. Take a few deep breaths to settle into your body and into the present moment.

Locate your breathing where you can feel it most easily – in your stomach, chest or diagram. Feel how your breath moves in your body, and when your attention wanders, , feel the gentle movement of your breath once again.

After a few minutes, start to notice any physical sensations of stress that you may be holding in your body, perhaps in your neck, jaw, belly, or forehead.

Also notice if you’re holding some difficult emotions such as worry about the future or uneasiness about the past. Understand that every human body bears stress and worry throughout the day.

Now offering yourself goodwill because of what you’re holding in your body right now.

Offering words of kindness and compassion to yourself, slowly and gently. For example:

May I be safe

May I be peaceful

May I be kind to myself

May I accept myself as I am

Repeat these phrases again and again.

When you notice that your mind has wandered, simply return to the words.

If you are ever overwhelmed with emotion, you can always return to your breathing. You can also name the emotions or find it in the physical body and soften that area. Then when you are comfortable, return to the phrases.

May I be safe

May I be peaceful

May I be kind to myself

May I accept myself as I am

Finally take a few breaths and just rest quietly in your body. Know that you can return to the phrases any time you wish.

When you are ready, gently open your eyes.

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