In this video, I demonstrate the Self-Compassion Break, an exercise that I frequently use on myself and with clients. I am posting it here to help clients remember the practice which is done in three steps:
- Mindfulness: recognizing that this is a moment of suffering and bravely being with the experience head-on. It’s here anyway so try to be with it with kindness and curiosity, not judging it. And being careful to meet it with balance, neither minimizing nor exaggerating the experience. Notice and name physical sensations, thoughts, and feelings.
- Universality of Suffering: pain tends to isolate us. Often we feel and believe that if life is hard or a struggle there must be something wrong with us because everyone else appears to be rocking it. This myth is pervasive in our culture and just isn’t true. In this step, we eschew the myth in favor of the truth that even at this very moment there are others going through very similar situations all over the world. Every human life has struggle and uncertainty, conflict and pain as well as joy and triumph.
- Self-care and kindness: In this step, we ask ourselves what we need in this moment to take care of ourselves in our suffering. Like a true friend, we turn towards ourselves with kindness and we extend this wish to everyone who suffers ~ may we all be compassionate and take good care of ourselves.
I first learned the self-compassion break from Kristin Neff, the lead researcher in the study of self-compassion. This is my take on the exercise. Use this exercise whenever you are in a moment of suffering. Please apply the practice flexibility so that it is meaningful and tailored to your needs. I hope that it is helpful to you. For information about why I think self-compassion is more important than self-esteem click here. Please email me or comment here if you have any questions about this practice.