Do you treat yourself with as much compassion as others? As a teacher, do you ever find yourself beating yourself up? What about your students? Are they sometimes their own worst critics? Taking risks and struggling are just as much a part of learning as they are of teaching and maintaining self-compassion throughout that process is instrumental to cultivating a growth mindset and, ultimately, happiness.
In this blog, we introduce a great activity for practicing self-compassion, which has been proven to help people overcome feelings of shame and self-criticism that can adversely affect mental health and stunt personal growth. This can be done by yourself or as a class and works best if it’s repeated regularly.
Materials: pen/pencil, paper, envelopes
1) Identify something about yourself that makes you feel inadequate or ashamed
We all have insecurities and we choose to deal with them in many different ways. Often, because of the negative emotions we feel when we confront these perceived shortcomings, we avoid confronting them altogether. Once you’ve identified yours, write it down.
2) Describe how this insecurity makes you feel
Be as honest and detailed as possible. This part of yourself may make you feel anxious, mad, lonely, sad, or any combination of feelings. Listen closely to your body to draw out as much information as you can.
3) Write a letter to yourself
In your letter, come from a place of support, compassion, acceptance, and empathy for the part of yourself you identified. Imagine that you are your own loving parent and that you love yourself unconditionally. Emphasize in your letter that everyone is human and naturally has flaws, that nobody is perfect. Without judging yourself, brainstorm ways in which you could improve this aspect of yourself or change the way you feel about it. Focus on how these changes will make you feel more positive feelings like happiness or fulfillment. Try to steer away from talking about reducing negative feelings.
4) Seal the letter in an envelope and write your name on it
Keep this letter in a safe place and open it next time you’re feeling down. You could even send this letter to yourself in the mail! You can read it as much as you want after you open it. Imagine the power of a stack of these letters. With enough self-compassion, you’re nearly invincible to self-doubt.