The Yin-Yang of Mindful Self-Compassion
Recovering from a Shame Attack
1. The instant you recognize the disturbance in the force field that is the signal of distress or upset, place your hand on your heart and begin to say the mindful self-compassion phrases to yourself: “May I be kind to myself in this moment.” Interrupt your automatic reactions to any experiences of shame you might be automatically experiencing for the reactions you are having.
2. Take a few deep, relaxing breaths. Attune to your emotional experiences as they arise, exactly as they are in this moment. Gently begin to label them: “This is fear.” “This is my shame about being a scared ninny.” “This is my anger.” “This is my shame about going ballistic (again!)” “This is my envy; this is my shame about still being vulnerable to envy after all these years.”
3. Allow any feelings to be there, just as they are, held in your kind, compassionate awareness.
4. Evoke a sense of shared humanity to help hold these feelings. “I’m a human being. These feelings are perfectly normal human feelings. I’m not the only person on the planet who has ever felt this way. Probably millions of other people are feeling this way, too, right now. I’m not alone in having these feelings. I don’t have to feel alone because I am having these feelings. I’m a work in progress, and I’m doing the best I can.”
5. See if you can locate a place in your body where you feel these feelings most strongly. In your jaw? In your chest? In your belly? Focus your attention kindly, tenderly on that spot.
6. Say the mindful self-compassion phrases to this particular spot. “May I be kind to you in this moment. May I accept you exactly as you are in this moment. May I give you, and myself, all the compassion we need.”
7. Spend as much time as you need offering compassion to these feelings, and to yourself for experiencing these feelings, until they softens and dissolve. Focus on accepting yourself in this moment exactly as you are.
We don’t necessarily practice mindful self-compassion in order to feel better, though the practice may have that effect over time. We do it so that our brain functions better, with less contraction, more openness, less reactivity, more receptivity. We do better when our brains are more open to learning and to the big picture. That openness helps us respond to whatever is happening with more flexibility and wiser choices.