Oftentimes when we're going through a challenging situation, we add an extra layer of pain by becoming highly self critical. So now, on top of feeling bad about something, we've also abandoned ourselves. This is not exactly the most helpful thing in an already challenging situation. In these painful moments, it can be so much more helpful to bring an attitude of kindness towards ourselves. This journaling practice is inspired by self compassion researcher Kristen Neff, especially her self compassion break, which can be found here. Below I'll be providing instructions for how to use journaling as a way to bring awareness and compassion to an emotionally challenging situation, along with a printable journaling prompt.
Instructions & Printable Prompt
Read on for self compassion journaling instructions or click below for the printable version!
01 Describe the Challenge
Jot down a brief description of what you're currently struggling with.
Imagine you're sitting with a friend and catching them up on your challenge.
Don't worry about grammar here, feel free to keep it casual. You can either do bullet points or sentences, whichever you prefer.
02 Acknowledge That Pain is Present
Jot down a message to yourself, using language that's comfortable to you, acknowledging that what you're struggling with is hard, that it's painful. Some examples below:
This is a really hard situation.
This is really painful.
I'm really struggling right now.
How would you validate a friend if they were in pain?
03 What Am I Believing About Myself Right Now
Take a moment to check in with what you are believing about yourself in this moment, and write it down.
Oftentimes when we're struggling, self judgmental voices may be lurking beneath the surface, check it out and see if there are any present for you.
It's important to bring these self judgmental beliefs into awareness, so they're not running the show.
Some examples; "I'm not good enough", "I'll always struggle with this thing", "what's wrong with me, other people don't struggle with this", "I'm a failure".
04 Acknowledge that Pain is a Part of Life
Pain is an unavoidable part of life, sometimes when we're caught up in struggle we can forget this and our struggle against feeling the pain can exacerbate it.
It may also be helpful to note to yourself here that you're not alone, send a message to yourself that others are experiencing similar things.
To be clear, we're not minimizing the pain here, we're bringing a quality of acceptance and connection, and trying to move away from adding resistance to the experience of pain.
05 Offer Yourself Kindness
Ask yourself, "What do I need right now? What does this hurting place in me need?"
It can be helpful again to imagine a friend or loved one, and picture what you would offer them in a moment of pain.
Maybe you need a message of kindness, acceptance, or support.
Jot down some messages of kindness for yourself.
After running through these journaling prompts it might be helpful to pause and take some deep breaths. Or you may want to offer yourself a physical form of self compassion, such as placing your hand on your heart, giving yourself a hug, or gently rubbing your arm. Anything that feels comforting can be helpful, and adding a physical component can strengthen the benefits of this practice. Take a moment to notice how you feel after writing your way through these steps. If you'd like to go deeper with the practice of self compassion, check out this post where I offer a brief guided self compassion meditation. I hope this journaling prompt brings a bit more clarity, acceptance, and kindness into your day!