When facing stressful situations, withdraw for a five-minute self-compassion meditation exercise to transform your experience from a stressful situation. Doing so requires no tools or experience, but only your attention and a few minutes somewhere where you can access some privacy. Our friends at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center have made this process simple to comprehend and follow.
Begin with thinking about the difficult situation that is causing your negative emotions. Focus on understanding it fully. Notice what emotions thinking about the situation brings up for you and try to visualize or imagine where in your body are you experiencing these emotions. Then, allow yourself to observe and acknowledge your own experience of your emotions without judging whether it is negative or positive.
When we label certain feelings in our brain as negative, we tend to resist them, and by resisting them, we end up creating more negative emotions for ourselves than we would if we were to acknowledge them. While practicing this technique, remind yourself that suffering is a part of every human experience, that your feelings are valid, and that fully experiencing them serves as a coping mechanism.
Once you’ve been able to understand, identify, and acknowledge the emotions you are experiencing, you can now seal this meditation exercise with some compassionate affirmations. You may do this by reciting to yourself or writing down statements that validate your patience, your humanity, your resilience, your imperfection, your self-forgiveness, and your acceptance of yourself.
While this may seem to some as a self-centered conclusion of the meditation exercise that could result in complacency, research has proven that self-compassion is far more efficient in motivating oneself than self-punishment. We all have the inner critic whispering fear, doubt, and self-judgment unto ourselves quite frequently. This voice may not disappear overnight. But we can learn how to manage it.
While some people may fear that displaying self-compassion can lead to narcissism, self-compassion differs. However, self-compassion is different from self-esteem. While self-compassion allows one’s acceptance of oneself with all positive and negative characteristics, self-esteem is a result of one’s interpretation of said characteristics. Afterall, accepting our flaws and being compassionate and kind to ourselves can solidify our self-esteem and by default help us authentically and successfully show up in the world the best way we possibly can.