As we are going through difficult times, it is inevitable to experience difficult feelings. Sometimes, we feel critical toward ourselves for feeling this way. During those moments, it is essential that we embrace a sense of compassion for ourselves. Below are some helpful exercises you could try out to cultivate some self-compassion.
Exercise 1: What if I am talking to my friend?
Imagine how you would treat a friend if they are really struggling in some way. How would you respond to your friend in this situation? Think about or write down what you typically do, what you say, and note the tone in which you typically talk to your friends?
Now think about times when you feel bad about yourself or are struggling. How do you typically respond to yourself in these situations? Think about or write down what you typically do, what you say, and note the tone in which you talk to yourself.
Did you notice a difference? If so, ask yourself why. What factors or fears come into play that lead you to treat yourself and others so differently?
Think about or write down how you think things might change if you responded to yourself in the same way you typically respond to a close friend when you’re suffering.
Exercise 2: Can I just take a break?
Think of a situation in your life that is difficult and is causing you stress. Try to feel the stress and emotional discomfort in your body. Then say the following lines to yourself:
This is a moment of suffering.
This is stress.
After this, say this to yourself:
Suffering is a part of life.
Other people may feel this way too.
I’m not alone.
We all struggle in our lives.
After this, try to imagine feeling the love that is coming from these sentences flowing around you. Say to yourself:
May I be kind to myself.
May I learn to accept myself as I am.
May I forgive myself.
May I be strong.
May I be patient.
We care about people around us, and friends are such an important component in our life. We would want them to do well and be well. When it comes to peer support, and specifically how to recognize if your friends/peers need help, you could refer to the “mental health awareness and when to ask for help” handout. In this handout, we will say a bit more about what you can do to help your peers.
Check in with your peers as much as you can to show them that you care about them. Sometimes, it takes a bit initiative on your part for others to get the help that they need.
Do the exercises with your peers, so that it is easier for them to get started in the self-help process.
Share the resources that you have already known with you peers, so that they do not waste time trying to get the resources.