Well-Being Practice: “How Can I Be Kind to Myself?”
Continuing the compassion practice from last week, for this week, ask yourself the question “How can I be kind to myself.” You don’t need to find any answers to the question. The assignment is to simply pose the question and let it go. As the question percolates through your mind, you may notice you naturally come up with a list of answers. This exercise isn’t about doing any of the things to be kinder to yourself. It’s simply to open the possibility of being kind, to cultivate self-compassion.
Put a reminder on your calendar to remind you to do this practice. You can also use other cues to practice. For example, you might do this exercise each time you wash your hands, are brushing your teeth, or stopped at a red light.
It’s important to remember that the purpose of this exercise isn’t to come up with the “right answer” or any answers at all. The reason for not answering the question is twofold.
First, it’s too easy to fall into the trap of “I should be kinder to myself and I’m failing at that because I’m not doing x, y, and z.” The practice of self-compassion isn’t doing anything to be kinder to ourselves. It’s not about taking ourselves shopping or getting an extra large scoop of ice cream. (Although, all of these actions may be part of your self-compassion practice.) It’s about cultivating an attitude of kindness and compassion.
Second, the practice is to build up the muscle of self-compassion. We want to dial down the inner critic that’s constantly at work. By asking the question without any pressure to come up with the answer, we’re trying to reduce the tendency of the inner critic taking charge by coming up with “the right answers.” Pay careful attention to any answers that have the word should in it, for example, I should be going to yoga every day.