(Adapted from greater good in education ggie.berkeley.edu)
Before beginning this activity, take a few deep breaths.
Tell students: We will purposely generate a little tension or stress in our minds and bodies by thinking of a challenging situation, so we can then learn how to use self-compassion.
Read the transcript below.
Think of a situation in your life that is difficult or causing you stress. Please choose a situation that is not the worst or most difficult in your life, but that something that is causing you some discomfort.
When you think of this situation, can you feel the experience in your body, perhaps discomfort such as tightness in the chest, gripping in the stomach?
Now, say to yourself: “In this moment, a part of me is struggling.”
This is mindfulness.
You might choose to say, “Whoa, this feels awful,” or “this sucks,” or maybe, “this is stress.”
Now say to yourself: “This kind of struggle is a part of life.”
This is common humanity. Lots of other people struggle in this same way.
You might choose to say, “Other kids feel this way too,” or “I’m not alone with this feeling,” or “This is a part of being a teen and so many others kids struggle just like me.” Or “All teens feel this at some time or another …!”
Now, offer yourself a kind and soothing, supportive touch – maybe a hand on your heart, or another gesture that feels right for you. Feel the warmth of your hand coming through to your body.
Now, saying to yourself: “May I be kind to myself.” Remembering that as teens, you’re going through so many transitions – your brains are changing, your bodies are changing, you may be in a new learning environment or all that’s going on in the world, so many pressures and so many changes. So be gentle with yourself.
For more personal language, ask “what do I need to hear right now?” Or if you have trouble finding what words to say, ask yourself “What would I say to a good friend who was going through this? Can I say those words to myself?”
- May I give myself the compassion that I need.
- May I accept myself as I am.
- May I learn to accept myself as I am.
- May I forgive myself.
- May I be strong.
- May I be safe.
- May I be peaceful.
- May I know that I deserve love.
And if the “May I” feels strange to you or like you are asking permission, you can always leave that out and just say “I wish to accept myself just as I am,” or “Strong,” or “Accept myself”
Simply notice what you’re feeling.
Closure: Ask one or more of the following questions and discuss:
- What does it feel like to comfort yourself in this way? What is it like to think that you can actually begin to notice when you’re struggling and begin to offer yourself kind words?
- Did anything change when you put your hand on your heart?
- What is it like to know that you can actually treat yourself with more kindness?
- Can you think of a situation where this would be useful to you?
Consider the three components of self-compassion—which were most meaningful to you and important to acknowledge?
- Mindfulness (“This is a moment of suffering.”)
- Common humanity (“I am not alone in my suffering.”)
- Self-Kindness (physical touch or soothing voice; “May I be kind to myself.”)