Self-compassion break

So as my time at Cambridge draws to a close for this academic year I thought I’d share a technique I was taught while I was there called a self-compassion break.  The day that I typed this blog post I really needed one …..

As Kristin Neff explains:

“Self-compassion is a relatively new psychological construct derived from
ancient Buddhist contemplative psychology.   Self-compassion has three main components: (1) self-kindness, (2)a sense of common humanity, and (3) mindfulness.  Self-kindness entails being warm and caring toward ourselves when things go wrong in our lives.  Common humanity recognizes the shared nature of suffering when difficult situations arise, rather than feeling desperately alone. And mindfulness refers here to the ability to open to painful experience (“this hurts!”) with non-reactive, balanced awareness.” (source: germer-neff_-trauma)

When you notice that you’re feeling stress or emotional discomfort, see if you can find the discomfort in your body.  Where do you feel it most?  Make contact with the sensations as they arise in your body.

Now say to yourself, slowly:

This is a moment of suffering – that’s mindfulness.  Other options include:

  • This hurts
  • This is tough
  • Ouch!

Suffering is a part of living – that’s common humanity.  Other options include:

  • Other people feel this way
  • I’m not alone
  • We all struggle in our lives

Now, put your hands over your heart, or wherever it feels soothing, feeling the warmth and gentle touch of your hands.

Say to yourself:

May I be kind to myself – that’s self-kindness.  See if you can find words for what you need in times like this.  Other options may be:

  • May I accept myself as I am
  • May I give myself compassion that I need
  • May I learn to accept myself as I am
  • May I forgive myself
  • May I be strong
  • May I be safe


If you’re having  trouble finding the right language, sometimes it helps to imagine what you might say to a dear friend struggling with that same difficulty (pause)

Can you say something similar to yourself, letting the words roll gently through your mind?

If you are struggling to find self-compassion for yourself related to your drinking and would like help to quit I run an online course you can do and by using the link here you get a 25% discount 🙂




23 thoughts on “Self-compassion break

  1. Awesome! My therapist suggested something like this. The problem is, I forget to do it!!
    I guess that’s human too! Ha.
    I’m funny. At least I think I am.

    1. My pleasure feeling 🙂 PS So happy for you I could do a happy dance! xx

      1. Ghegheghegheghegheghegheghegheghegheghegheghegheghegheghe. Haaaahahaahahaahaaaaa. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

        And how long did you think about posting or not posting that? 😀 Gheghegheghegheghe.

      2. Not a second! 😀 😉 We are both in good moods so it felt natural 🙂

      3. Ghegheghe…. I recognise this from when I got in to Bach remedies 20 years ago. It took my family 2 years to come up with a joke like that. 🙂 I guess everything is getting clearer now quicker. 🙂 Today is my 7 months aniversary :-). Yeah!

      4. I had kinesiology about 20 years ago and was introduced to Bach flower remedies then. I’m not mocking feeling only joking with you 🙂 And congrats on 7 months!! xx

      5. I know :-). Thanks! Happy. 🙂 Bought a piece of chocolate because I sort of think I need to celebrate. Not sure if I will open it. Guess I will, but it is not calling me anymore.

        Would you know of any medical care or addititon treatment that is supported by Bach remedies?

        xx, Feeling

  2. this is just LOVELY, Lou – I’ve seen ideas along these lines before but never put so simply and cogently, so thank you! I particularly like the idea of placing the hand on the heart – so grounding…

    this also made me think of another idea I thought I’d bookmarked but now can’t find so sorry can’t link… the idea is that we imagine we have a ’emotional reset’ button in the palm of our hand. so at the point when we are feeling overwhelmed by an emotion we give ourselves a moment of quiet, and press the button with the thumb of our other hand, telling ourselves it will reset our emotions to a more positive place – acceptance instead of irritation, for example. the article I read said that the brain doesn’t know what is a ‘real’ button…and in fact even when it knows that the button is not ‘real’ this can still work on the brain – like the way a placebo can work even when the patient knows it is a placebo…

    it sounds a bit daft I know but I have been doing it recently and it’s been surprisingly effective! I might add it on to the end of the process you describe above – giving myself permission to experience the initial feeling as well… thanks again for this great post! xxx

    1. Ooh that sounds like a great addition to the process – shall adopt that too! Thanks Prim 🙂 xx

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