Self-Compassion Break in Relationships

Dog koalaSession Details - August 15th - Exploring using phrases that directly speak to the three components of Self-Compassion as a way to address the struggles that can come whilst relationtionshipping. 

"Your heart is the softest place on earth – take care of it." – Nayyirah Waheed

The practices prior to the discussion were an open awareness mindfulness meditation, mindful movement and then the Compassionate Friend meditation from session-7 of the MSC program.

A common source of suffering is relational pain; the pain of disconnection and the pain of connection (empathic pain). Mindfulness allows us to contact relational pain with greater understanding. Bringing compassion to our mindfulness allows us to cradle these moments of struggle in our warmth and courage. The Self-Compassion (SC) break is a wonderful practice to open the heart, strengthen or re-establish a loving-connection to oneself in moments of relational struggle. It can be done on the spot, once we notice a struggle, it allows us to ‘breath underwater’, stay present for ourself and perhaps others. MSC can evoke positive mind states, these states can widen our perspective – bring the depth and clarity that may assists us to identify our needs, meet them or speak them within in relationships.


Examples of MSC phrases for relational struggles:
Mindfulness: ‘This is a tough moment’, ‘it's really painful to be going through this’, ‘this is a moment of suffering’, ‘I am struggling right now and it hurts’.
Common Humanity: ‘Hard times are part of life’, ‘this is part of being human’, ‘every-one has hard times’, ‘I am not alone in this experience of suffering’.
Kindness: ‘May I be there for myself’, or ‘may I be kind in this moment’, or ‘may I hold my pain with gentleness’ or ‘can I learn to create the space and warmth I need to be with this’.
At times we can just go straight to dropping one of these questions into the heart/mind: ‘What do I need?’ or ‘What would love do?’

Tips for practicing with MSC phrases:
• Use the same friendly and warm tone you would use for someone you care for;
• Start with recognising the little moments of suffering, meeting them on the spot;
• Understand that social pain follows the same neural pathways as physical pain. Choosing to open to the SC break is slowly thickening a new pathway;
• Internally remind yourself to keep it a ‘neck down’ felt experience;
• Hand/s on the heart, or wherever else assists with a sense of caring and connection;
• You can start with some words of friendship to self, words you would give to a good friend: "I care and I don't want you to suffer alone or without a loving presence and kindness";
• ‘Name it and you tame it’, acknowledging and validating the struggle;
• As best you can let go of the story-line and instead rest with the felt emotion / experience;
• Start with 3 memorized phrases, then allowing them to organically form into words that directly meet your need in any given moment;
• Neff’s research has shown that people benefit positively from being around people who practice SC, so trust that you are caring for others via meeting your own needs;
• Permission to keep being a learner – experiment, sometimes it may just be a word you give yourself, a gentle touch or an image that meets your need in that moment.

"In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few."
– Suzuki Roshi

Comments from participants

“I have found mindfulness a key to coping." 

“Learning to be still and kind to myself." 

“Tina, you create a safe, warm, kind and comfortable environment."

“I could not think of a better way to start my week." 

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