When it’s been about forever since you’ve actually been kind to yourself, it can be tough to know exactly what to say. Self-compassionate words might feel so foreign, unfamiliar and far away.
It won’t always feel this way. Because the more you practice, the more automatic and natural saying self-compassionate statements will become.
However, because you currently might be rusty, below you’ll find a list of examples you can say to yourself when you’re struggling, when you’re having a bad day, when you’re anxious, when you need comfort, when you need a pep talk, when you simply need some kindness.
- I’m absolutely not alone in struggling with anxiety (or whatever I’m struggling with). For starters, everyone experiences anxiety because anxiety is part of the human condition. And about 40 million Americans struggle with a diagnosable anxiety disorder every year. In other words, I’m in good company.
- It’s OK to have a bad day, a bad week. Life is naturally filled with ups and downs, peaks and valleys.
- Instead of criticizing myself, I can refocus on what I need right now.
- I accept that sometimes I make mistakes, and sometimes I do hurtful things. I accept that I am human, and that I’m constantly striving to learn and to do better than before.
- I acknowledge that today is a rough day for me, and I’m feeling sad. (Naming our feelings is one of the most powerful things we can do for ourselves, and it doesn’t have to be fancy.)
- I can sit with this feeling. This is how I honor myself.
- Everyone has needs. Sometimes, those needs include taking a nap. Sometimes, they include sleeping in. Sometimes, they include eating a big bowl of ice cream. I don’t have to work myself to death in order to meet my needs, in order to “earn” meeting them.
- I won’t be criticizing myself. I’m going to try being curious.
- I can feel a range of emotions, even at the same time: “I can feel angry at my eating disorder and be grateful for what it taught me. I can feel sad about my infertility and choose to trust my body. I can find acceptance and have regrets.”
- “I am built from every mistake I’ve ever made.”
- This is temporary. It will pass.
- Courage comes in all shapes, sizes and stripes. And today getting up and facing the day is courageous.
- Last time I checked I’m not a robot. I am doing the best I can.
- Grief is exhausting. It’s OK to rest.
- Right now this is incredibly painful. And it might feel incredibly painful for a while. But I will feel better.
- I am capable, and I can learn from this.
- Today, I can be tired. I can be weary and lethargic. I can slow down, and I can rest—without having to hustle and complete a massive to-do list. Today, I can be human, and that is always enough.
Jot down your favorite statements, or create a list of your own. If you need some help, ask your loved ones to say compassionate things to you, and write that down. Or consider what you’d say to your 4- or 7- or 10- or 13- or 18-year-old self. What nurturing, supportive, encouraging, understanding things can you say?
Keep this list somewhere that’s easily accessible, so you can turn to it when you need it.
Of course, sometimes, we can’t seem to muster a single kind word (list or no list). We’re too upset. We’re too disappointed. We’re too angry.
During those times, we can still care compassionately for ourselves. During those times, we can think of the kindest action we can take, and proceed accordingly. Even the smallest steps can have significant benefits.