Our emotions and thoughts can sometimes take over our minds in ways that are not helpful for us, and that can make us feel uncomfortable or distressed. Responding to situations and ourselves in kind and compassionate ways can allow us to feel safe and create a space to respond to our needs. Self-compassion can enable us to let go of self-criticism, and to respond to our critical thoughts in a supportive and caring manner.
Next time you notice distressing thoughts and emotions arising in your mind, you may try the following to help yourself through in a self-compassionate way. Think of what you can say to yourself that is kind and soothing. Or, think of what you would say to a good friend when they are in distress and try applying that to yourself. Or, consider what a good friend might say to you during difficult times. For example, try these statements: “It’s okay for me to feel this way,” “I know this is difficult, but it will pass,” ; “I know it is scary, but I am here to keep you safe.”
Don’t forget that you can comfort yourself physically, too. You might gently rub your chest or hold your hand. You may go for a nice walk, take a long bath, and change into comfortable clothes. It’s essential to stay kind and gentle towards yourself.
Dr. Khuraman Mamedova, C.Psych. is a psychologist in supervised practice at the Centre for Interpersonal Relationships (Toronto). She works with adults in psychotherapy, to support them to overcome difficulties related to mood and anxiety disorders, psychosis, trauma-related experiences, and relationships. She has completed research on the relationship between clients and therapists in psychotherapy.