Two Questions to Ask Yourself When You're Struggling

A Strategy for Eliciting Self-Compassion

Life can be challenging.  Sometimes these challenges arise when things don’t work out the way we’d prefer.  Sometimes we create our own struggles without realizing it.  Sometimes bad things just happen.

Many of us, when we’re in the midst of a personal challenge or struggle, put unnecessary pressure on ourselves.  We lament our circumstances and beat ourselves up for not making the right choice or behaving in a way that could have (theoretically) helped to avoid this problem.  Some of us even self-flagellate about how we suck in general, and that our personal crappiness is why these life struggles arise. 

Beating ourselves up like this doesn’t help, and I would like to offer a strategy that may, at the very least, help us be gentler with ourselves in order to deal with our struggles more skillfully.
 
When you’re in the throes of a difficult situation, bring to mind these two questions as a way to offer yourself the same level of compassion you would give or receive from others:

  • What would a close friend or loved one say to support me in this particular situation?
     
  • What words of comfort would I offer to a close friend or loved one going through this situation?

By asking yourself these questions, you’re allowing a generosity of spirit to arise in a way that may have been previously inaccessible.    The next step is to offer the kind and supportive responses that arose from the questions to yourself and from yourself.

The more you engage in this kind of self-compassion practice, the easier it becomes to offer kindness to yourself without the support of the questions.
 
Keep in mind that the tone of this practice is NOT self-indulgent or self-pitying.  You are merely acknowledging the difficulty of the situation and allowing yourself to be supported by self-kindness instead of exacerbating the difficulty through negative self-talk and self-flagellation.