By CHRIS GERMER
Psychologist Chris Germer’s three-step practice to soothe your anxiety with kindness.
This three-step practice taps into the three components of self-compassion: mindfulness, our common humanity, and self-kindness. You can do it whenever you feel anxiety in your daily life.
1. START BY PRACTICING MINDFULNESS
Begin by validating your feelings of anxiety. Say in a warm and understanding way, “I’m experiencing anxiety. I’m feeling anxiety,” as you might speak with a dear friend.
Then notice where in your body you feel anxiety the most. Do you feel tightness in your throat, a pounding heart, butterflies in your stomach, or dizziness in your head?
See if you can make a little room for that sensation, allowing it to be there, if only for a few moments.
2. CONTEMPLATE OUR COMMON HUMANITY
It may feel like you’re the only person experiencing anxiety, but rest assured that millions of people feel just as you do in this very moment.
Recognize that many others, if they were in the same situation as you, would feel just like you do.
Say to yourself, “Anxiety is part of the human condition. I am not alone.”
3. GIVE YOURSELF KINDNESS
Now see if you can give yourself kindness, simply because you’re feeling anxiety, not to make anxiety go away. Here are four ways to do that.
Soft Gaze: First, allow a living being to come to mind who has a lot of love in their eyes, such as a child, a pet, a loved one, or a friend. Visualize their eyes and allow yourself to bathe in their gaze for as long as you like.
Soothing Touch: Place one of your hands on the part of your body where you feel anxiety the most, feeling the sense of touch and warmth of your hand. If you like, imagine kindness flowing through your fingers into that part of your body, or gently stroke that part of your body as an expression of sympathy and kindness.
Gentle Words: Reflect for a moment on words you would like to hear most at a time like this. For example, “I love you,” ‘‘I’m here for you,” “You can do this.” What words would inspire you to say, “Thank you, I needed to hear that”? Then whisper those words into your own ear, as a silent blessing, over and over.
Take some time to practice self-kindness—through soft gaze, soothing touch, and gentle words—however it feels just right for you.
Keywords; touch, anxiety, self-compassion, mindfulness