By Alex Mirsakova , AMFT
We live in a fast-paced, high- stress society, one that highlights constant productivity and achievement. The concept of slowing down and taking a break seems out of the question for many of us. Yet, the importance of taking care of our own mental well-being, and the importance of slowing down when it feels as though we must go faster – cannot be ignored. It seems counterproductive to be told to “slow down” when we feel as though we must constantly rush. But perhaps the next time we feel that familiar overwhelming sense of urgency, we can accept it as an opportunity to pause.
Developed by Kristin Neff and Chris Germer, the practice of the self-compassion break is designed for you to directly experience the three elements of self-compassion:
2) Common Humanity
It can be used as often as you need, through a moment of pain, difficulty, frustration, or intense pressure.
I invite you to take the self-compassion break:
Take a few deep breaths and settle into your body. Take four seconds to breathe in. Take four seconds to breathe out. Focus on your breath. Focus on the sensations in your body.
Now, bring to mind a situation in your life that is creating stress or paining you. When first learning this practice, choose a problem that’s in the mild to moderate range so that you may gradually develop this quality of self-compassion.
What changes are you observing in your body? What discomforts are you noticing? What sensations are coming up for you?
When challenges are present, it is important to take time to stay calm and mindful. Speak to yourself gently and acknowledge that you are experiencing discomfort in this moment.
I am not okay
I am under a lot of stress
This is frustrating
As you embrace the challenges in your life, you can begin reflecting on the challenging experiences in life that all humans live through. Inviting yourself to connect with humanity and accepting that pain is a part of life will help you understand that you are not alone in your time of despair.
“I feel, through my struggle, what others feel. In this way, I am sensing this feeling as not just my own, but as a deep connection to many other people.”
Experiment with offering yourself a simple gesture of soothing touch. One option is placing your hand over your heart. Experiment with finding what feels soothing and right for you. Feel the warmth and gentle touch of your hands. You may tap lightly on your body as you ground yourself.
Words of Affirmation and Positive Statements of Kindness
Perhaps there are particular words of kindness and support that you need to hear in this difficult situation. What simple message might be a caring response? If you are having difficulty summoning the words, consider what you would offer a dear friend or a loved one who is experiencing a painful moment. What would you say to this loved one? Now, see if you can offer the same message to yourself.
I can be kind to myself
I accept where I am in my life
I forgive myself for past mistakes
I am growing to trust myself more everyday
Alex is a pre-licensed clinician who works with couples, individuals, and children/ teens ( ages 10 and up). She is bilingual and speaks Russian and English. She works via telehealth as well as in person at our Glendale, Pasadena , and Sherman Oaks offices with flexible evenings and weekends scheduling. Book with her today .