The Self Compassion Break
Updated: Sep 15, 2018
Most people are nicer to others than they are to themselves. Kristen Neff and Chris Germer developed a whole program, The MSC or Mindfulness Self Compassion workshop, to help people become more self-compassionate. I've taken Kristen Neff’s two-day workshop and have started her weekly workshop run by local psychologists, so I've been able to use a technique called the “self-compassion break.”
Approximately a year ago, I had to allow my compassionate vet to euthanize Pago, my ten year old Schipperke, after he waged a heroic 18 month battle with cancer. Losing pets is the most painful part of inviting these wonderful creatures into our lives and having to decide when to euthanize them is awful. I still blame myself.
Whenever I re-live losing him, I cry. I can't help it. He was the center of my existence for too short a time.
To practice the self-compassion break, first came the mindfulness part, I had to recognize that it was painful. Next, I need to say to myself, "This situation is painful”. Then I have to focus on the reality that I certainly am not the the only person who suffers the loss of pets, “There are many people who are suffering just like me.” This is interconnectedness or shared experience.
Finally, it’s helpful to find a tactile experience, such as touching my arm, putting one hand over the other, putting my hands over my heart, or touching my thighs and saying something nice to myself like, “I did the most I could for him and loved him unconditionally until the last moment of his life."
This short self-compassion break, with each of three parts of self-compassion, can help a person feel significantly better. Don’t worry if it doesn’t work instantly. This practice has helped me to get through some tough situations, and all I have to devote to it is a few seconds.