Giving myself a break: Exercises in self-compassion

people-2561455_1280Today is all about starting to integrate more self-compassion into my daily life.

This morning while on my way to the gym, I realized I’ve been pretty hard on myself about how I’ve been handling the process of learning how to manage chronic Illness. Because I’ve had no support from medical professionals, and there aren’t a lot of resources in my community for people with fibromyalgia and endometriosis, I’ve had to create my own treatment plan.  After a lot of trial and error, money and time,  I’ve found many things that help me manage my symptoms and have even eliminated some of them (with the help of a few good naturopaths).  I think it’s important for me to recognize the fact that despite receiving minimal direction or support, I haven’t given up.   Now it’s time to give myself a little break.

The next step is taking care of my emotional health. In the process of prioritizing my physical health, I didn’t notice the emotional effects of having a chronic illness. The thing about chronic illness is that it is chronic, so managing it is an ongoing process that requires daily effort. There’s a lot of ups and downs. Some days your body feels relatively normal and other days you feel like you’ll never feel normal again. The unpredictability of it can cause a lot of difficult emotions- helplessness, hopelessness, and so on.  You think you’re doing all the “right” things to take care of yourself but ultimately you have no control over what the illness wants to do. The fact is that there is no normal anymore. There’s just variations of how you feel. You can imagine that there’s some nasty emotional side effects that come out of all the uncertainty and unpredictability that comes with having chronic illness. These emotional side effects arise insidiously.

Like I mentioned at the start of this post, I think practicing self-compassion more often may be a good place to start in terms of combating difficult emotions. Today I did several exercises from the website: http://self-compassion.org/

I tried:

Exercise 2: Self-Compassion Break

This exercise can be used any time of day or night and will help you remember to evoke the three aspects of self-compassion in the moment you need it most. Also available as an mp3.

Exercise 8: Taking care of the caregiver

This exercise will allow you to keep your heart open and help you care for and nurture yourself at the same time you’re caring for and nurturing others.

Because I work in a helping profession, it’s important for me to practice Exercise 8 but I liked both and will definitely practice them regularly. I’m also going to try a few of the other ones and post a blog to follow up on how they worked for me.

If you’re interested in trying some, here’s a list of all the exercises as well as a link for more details: http://self-compassion.org/category/exercises/#exercises

Exercise 1: How would you treat a friend?

How do you think things might change if you responded to yourself in the same way you typically respond to a close friend when he or she is suffering? This exercise walks you through it.

Exercise 2: Self-Compassion Break

This exercise can be used any time of day or night and will help you remember to evoke the three aspects of self-compassion in the moment you need it most. Also available as an mp3.

Exercise 3: Exploring self-compassion through writing

Everybody has something about themselves that they don’t like; something that causes them to feel shame, to feel insecure, or not “good enough.” This exercise will help you write a letter to yourself about this issue from a place of acceptance and compassion.

Exercise 4: The criticizer, the criticized, and the compassionate observer

In this exercise, you will sit in different chairs to help get in touch with different, often conflicting parts of yourself (the criticizer, the criticized, and the compassionate observer), experiencing how each aspect feels in the present moment.

Exercise 5: Changing your critical self-talk

By acknowledging your self-critical voice and reframing its observations in a more friendly way, you will eventually form the blueprint for changing how you relate to yourself long-term. This exercise will help you learn how to do it.

Exercise 6: Self-Compassion Journal

Keeping a daily journal in which you process the difficult events of your day through a lens of self-compassion can enhance both mental and physical well-being. This exercise will help make self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness part of your daily life.

Exercise 7: Identifying what we really want

Remember that if you really want to motivate yourself, love is more powerful than fear. In this exercise, you’ll reframe your inner dialogue so that it is more encouraging and supportive.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s