We all have difficult days sometimes. When you’re coping with abuse or its aftermath, sometimes hard days can happen more or can take a lot more to manage.
One way to show ourselves kindness and ease difficult feelings on days like this can be through self-compassion. This has three steps:
Noticing and validating what we’re feeling. Instead of judging ourselves or our feelings, just naming and being with them. ‘This is really tough’. ‘I feel really sad and angry’. ‘It’s hard to deal with feelings like this’. Acknowledging what’s happening as genuinely hard is an important first step in showing care.
Remember the ‘shared humanity’ of painful feelings. Suffering and hard times are something we all share. It can be easy to feel alone with negative feelings, but everyone feels like this sometimes.
Offer yourself a caring gesture or kind words. What would you do for a friend? Make them tea, squeeze their arm gently, tell them they’re doing what they can – can you do these things for yourself? You might not feel like you deserve this sort of kindness, but we all do when we’re suffering. It’s not about ‘letting yourself off the hook’. It’s about what we all need in hard times.
It can be good to practice these with less intense difficult feelings, so that you’re able to use them more easily in very upsetting situations.
If staying with your painful feelings starts to feel unmanageable or overwhelming, it’s ok to step back and focus on something else instead. Singing a song, making a grocery list or something else neutral and distracting.