Scripps Ranch and Bankers Hill Therapist Sara Cole.
What if the key to feeling better, happier, more hopeful is to learn to treat yourself with compassion. Cultivating self compassion is something that anyone can do if they know how. To develop compassion for yourself is a big way to fight depression and low self esteem.
Not everyone grows up with adults modeling self love and self compassion. Not everyone grows up being praised and encouraged. Not everyone grows up to feel proud of everything they have done. We all have bad things happen. We all hurt people and make mistakes. We have all had someone yell at us or put us down. Some people internalize these things more than others. Some people take these things to define who they are. It is pretty common that people are much harder on themselves than they are on other people. We give other people more chances and we are more understanding when it comes to their mistakes.
Dr. Kristin Kneff is a professor at University of Texas in Austin who studies mindful self-compassion. She studies the effects of self-compassion through writing. Everybody has something about themselves that they don't like; something that causes them to feel shame, to feel insecure, or not “good enough.” This exercise she developed helps you write a letter to yourself about this negativity from a place of acceptance and compassion.
The exercise goes like this:
First, identify something about yourself that makes you feel ashamed, insecure, or not good enough. It could be something related to your personality, behavior, abilities, relationships, or any other part of your life. Once you identify something, write it down and describe how it makes you feel. Sad? Not good enough? Embarrassed? Angry? Try to be as honest as possible, keeping in mind that no one but you will see what you write.
The next step is to write a letter addressing these inadequacies, to yourself from the perspective of an imaginary friend who is unconditionally loving, accepting, kind and compassionate.
The third step is to put the letter down for a while a come back to it and read it and feel how it soothes and comforts you.
For the full exercise go to Dr. Kneffs website. You can find other mindfulness and self compassion ideas on her page as well.
Sara Cole MFT is a Therapist in Scripps Ranch. She specializes in working with women and teen girls. To learn about how she may be able to help you or a loved one, visit www.saracolemft.com.
Sara Cole has been providing mental health services in San Diego for 15 years. Sara specializes in working with women and teen girls to overcome trauma and major life changes, including postpartum depression and anxiety. She is also passionate about providing treatment to those whose lives are affected by the addiction of a loved one.