Sometimes days suck. And that is ok. There, I said it. No need to keep pretending everything is “fine” all the time. Sometimes days are hard and can make us feel uncomfortable so we search for ways to make them different. But when we rush to engage in a distraction or we ignore the difficultness of our day by forcing ourselves to focus on the positive, we are invaliding our own experience. Not every day is going to be fun and easy. Sometimes life is hard and painful and chaotic. And that is ok. Life is a mix of ups and downs, like waves in the ocean or the twists and turns of a roller coaster. We have ups and downs and both are equally valid and worthy of our attention.
The next time you have a difficult day, instead of engaging in something mentioned above, try practicing self-compassion instead. Kristin Neff, a researcher on self-compassion, found that practicing self-compassion can help increase self-esteem while softening the blow we feel when we face difficult situations and emotions.
Her research found that there are 3 important aspects of practicing self-compassion. They are as follows:
1. Mindfulness: Mindfulness is becoming aware of a moment without judging it. It takes a balance approach to our difficult experiences and emotions so they are neither suppressed nor exaggerated. Experiences are just experiences. They can be observed without suppressing, denying, or over identifying with the experience or the thoughts or feelings associated with them.
2. Common Humanity: All humans suffer. Suffering and feelings of inadequacy are a part of the shared human experience. This is something that we all experience rather than something that you are going through alone.
3. Self-kindness: This entails being warm and understanding towards ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate rather than ignoring our pain or putting ourselves down with self-criticism or self-judgement. Self-compassion is recognizing that being imperfect, failing, and experiencing life’s difficulties is inevitable and therefore we need to be gentle with ourselves when we are confronted with painful experiences.
Take a moment to create a personal self-compassion mantra statement that includes a sentence related to each of these aspects above to say to yourself the next time you have a day that leaves you feeling like you would rather run away than face it. An example of this would be:
This is a moment of suffering. (Mindfulness)
Suffering is a part of life. (Common Humanity)
May I give myself the kindness I need in this moment. (Self-kindness)
Check out this website for more resources and information on how to continue to develop a self-compassion practice: http://self-compassion.org/category/exercises/
Written by Malinda King, MA, LPC
Photo credit: pexels.com