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Self-Compassion Work (optional video)

Be Kind to Yourself

Use these exercises to create more compassion for yourself – because really – what’s the worst thing if you’re kind to yourself?


Okay, so in this video, what I want to talk about is the practice of self-compassion. And when we’re talking about self-compassion, this is actually the work that I did on myself. That allowed me to be more compassionate with myself, stopping the inner critic. And I don’t know that we can ever stop the inner critic, but definitely, we can quiet her. Okay?

And so, there’s a woman out of the university of Texas in Austin, who is the premiere on self-compassion, and I’ve put her resources down below. But what I’m going to do is I’m going to actually build on them a little bit.

So, her name is Kristin Neff. And what she suggests is that when you are beating yourself up, when you’re judging yourself for doing something wrong, or not being enough, or whatever it is that you have done, right? That your inner critic is just sitting there barking at you about.

What we want to do is we want to pretend and give ourselves the same advice that we would give someone who we love unconditionally. This is the first step. So, what you want to do is you almost want to disassociate yourself with yourself. So, it’s some visualization work. And what you’re doing is you are imagining that your best friend, or daughter, or mother, or sister, or whoever it is in your life, who you love 100%. That they are telling you the facts of the story.

So, they’re telling you exactly what they did. And what we want to do is we want to give ourselves the same advice that we would give to them. And not being able to tolerate anything less than that. Because when we have our inner critic barking at us, right?

And telling us that we’re terrible and that we shouldn’t have done that in all of those things that we say to ourselves, we would never, ever, ever accept that from someone else. And no one would allow us to say those things to them. And so, why should we tolerate it with ourselves? Okay?

So, that’s the first step is when you’re in real time, what we want to do is we want to disassociate ourselves, pretend that someone that we love is in the same situation. What compassion would we give to them?

See, we think that self-compassion means that we’re going to believe our excuses. But if you have a child, you’re not going to allow your child to eat cupcakes, and ice cream, and cookies all the time. And so, we have to hold our feet to the fire, just like we do with someone that we love.

The thing is that we don’t have to be mean about it. We can really get curious with ourselves like, “Hey love, why are you doing what you’re doing?” When you say that this is important to you, why are your actions being so different? Okay? So, that’s the first part to self-compassion.

Now, I have another activity for you that isn’t going to get done in a week, and it’s some long term work. Some call it like inner child work. However, you want to refer to it is fine. And it’s a little, “woo.” Okay? So, I’m going to introduce you to the “woo” side of me.

But what it’s done is it’s really helped me come to peace with those things in my life that I still judge myself for it.

So, let me explain. You know how there are things that happen in your past that are cringe-worthy you’re like, “oh, why did I say that?” Like, even 40 years later, you’re like, “oh, why did I do that when I was in high school?” Or you think about something that happened to you and it just keeps coming up and how you’re a bad person or whatever.

Now, be aware that the subconscious brain is developing within the first seven years of our life. And because of that, our brains aren’t capable of understanding everything that’s happening in the world and everything that’s happening around us. So, that childhood brain takes everything that’s happening around us. And it actually means it takes it and makes it mean something about us.

So, for example, let’s say that your mother is on the phone, and she scowls as she looks at you. Your childhood brain is going to think I’ve done something wrong. Okay? That’s a very rudimentary example, but it’s how our brains start to process what’s happening around us.

And so, what I want to suggest is that when we have memories that we judge ourselves for, or that we criticize, or that we still have unresolved feelings about. What I want to do is I want you to do a visualization exercise. And what’s easiest I’ve found is not doing something that is so recent, but actually going way back in the past. And maybe it’s worth writing down a list of incidents that are scarring or traumatic to you from your childhood.

And what I want you to do is I want you to visualize, “close your eyes,” and I want you to visualize yourself going to that version of yourself in the past. And what I want you to do is I want you to explain to her, as you can, as your adult self, how she was not wrong? And that she was actually doing the best that she could.

And I want you to love, and hold, and tell that past version of yourself everything that she needs to know about how amazing she is. Because you think that, don’t you? You think that this child, this 10 year old, this 14 year old, this 7 year old, however old you are in that memory, that she was pretty freaking special, and she did not deserve whatever it was that happened to her.

And I want you to just show all of your love to her. All right? Do this as many times as you need in order to heal those old wounds, ultimately. And for many of my clients, what we find is that it’s easier to do younger versions. It’s easier to be more compassionate with a child than it is to be an adult.

And so, that’s why I’m suggesting that you go back to previous versions of yourself and just tell her, from an adult point of view, what happened, explained to her, love her, tell her that everything’s going to be okay. Because it is, right?

And then, as you progress through your periods of life, it’s going to be easier for you to show compassion to the present version of yourself. That’s how it works. So, this is the work that I did on myself, it’s based off of Kristin Neff’s work. And this is just a tool that you can use when things pop up.

So, when you have memories that come up of past experiences, use this technique to help yourself feel better. All right?

That’s all I have for you in this video. Go ahead and check out the resources below and I’ll see you in the next video.

Resources & Links

  • Self-compassion exercises
    • Perform these exercises on younger versions of yourself
    • Identify as many instances in your past that stick out to you as shameful, embarrassing, or times that you have strong feelings about – you know those memories that keep coming up in your brain – the ones where you cringe, or feel regret, sad, shame, embarrassed or anything else that formed how you looked at yourself in relation to the world.
    • Starting with the youngest version, visualize your present-day self talking to her, holding her, hugging her, etc. Feel the feeling with her. Have compassion for her – understand what she did/how she was/how she coped – she did the best that she was able to do.
    • Explain to her that it wasn’t her fault. She didn’t have the tools that you have today. She didn’t know what you know today looking back.
    • If you can look at the situation today through a different experience, explain that to her. Tell her that you love her and that she is forgiven. Tell her that everything is going to be okay, and that you love her.