After my diagnosis with ulcerative colitis in 2008 I felt a lot of different emotions that I didn’t know how to properly manage. Feelings of anger, confusion, sadness, frustration, guilt, and shame made living a full life difficult. I knew that I wanted to live a fuller life and that I needed a method to help begin that process.
I wanted to share a self-compassion trick from my Precision Nutrition Level 2 nutrition coaching course that might sound a little fluffy but is just basic effective neuroscience.
Most folks can feel compassion and care for others, even if they find it hard to do the same for themselves.
So, use that “other-centered” compassion to sneak self-compassion in “under the radar” before your brain wises up and goes back to criticizing you.
Try this little exercise:
- Imagine something or someone about which you easily feel love, care, concern, compassion, etc. Like your child, or your spouse, or your little old grandma, or a fuzzy kitten who is sad, whatever. (See attached photo if you’re having trouble there. Look how sad that kitten is!)
- Focus on feeling that compassion and care for your chosen subject. Love bomb that fuzzy kitten in your mind. Do this for 10-20 seconds. Really warm up that love train engine.
- Then, once the good vibes are humming, switch the focus briefly to yourself. Maybe 5-10 seconds.
- Then go back to the fuzzy kitten. Amp up the care and compassion again, in case you lost any compassion fuel when you focused on yourself.
- Switch your focus back to yourself, and see if you can catch the self-compassion wave again for 5-10 seconds.
- Go back and forth like this a few times. Even if you only focus the compassion on yourself for 5 seconds, it’s enough for now.
This exercise takes advantage of the emotional “lag time” we experience in switching emotions.
We can’t go from loving compassion to self-criticism immediately, so this “drill” helps us practice experiencing a feeling of self-care even if we can’t normally generate it spontaneously for ourselves.
Hope this helps you feel better!