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Exercises for Self-compassion

Originally posted on Self-compassion.org

Test how self-compassionate you are HERE

Exercise 1

How would you treat a friend?

Please take out a sheet of paper and answer the following questions:
1. First, think about times when a close friend feels really bad about him or herself or is
really struggling in some way. How would you respond to your friend in this situation
(especially when you’re at your best)? Please write down what you typically do, what
you say, and note the tone in which you typically talk to your friends.
2. Now think about times when you feel bad about yourself or are struggling. How do
you typically respond to yourself in these situations? Please write down what you
typically do, what you say, and note the tone in which you talk to yourself.
3. 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?
4. Please 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.
Why not try treating yourself like a good friend and see what happens?2

Exercise 2
Self-Compassion Break

Think of a situation in your life that is difficult, that is causing you stress.
Call the situation to mind, and see if you can actually feel the stress and emotional
discomfort in your body.
Now, say to yourself:
1. This is a moment of suffering

That’s mindfulness. Other options include:

• This hurts.
• Ouch.
• This is stress.
2. Suffering in a part of life
That’s common humanity. Other options include:
• Other people feel this way.
• I’m not alone.
• We all struggle in our lives.
Now, put your hands over your heart, feel the warmth of your hands and the gentle touch
of your hands on your chest.
Or adopt the soothing touch you discovered felt right for you.

3. Say to yourself: May I be kind to myself
You can also ask yourself, “What do I need to hear right now to express kindness to myself?” Is there a phrase that speaks to you in your particular situation, such as:
• May I give myself the compassion that I need
• May I accept myself as I am
• May I forgive myself
• May I be strong
• May I be patient
This practice can be used any time of day or night, and will help you remember to evoke the three aspects of self-compassion when you need it most.


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