The Self-Compassion Cheat: A Technique for Managing Incoming Stress.


Ok, it is not really cheating just an easy way to remember how to use self-compassion as you begin the process of incorporating it into your life.  If I am honest, I have been working with self-compassion for 13 years and I still use it.  I got this idea from one of my greatest mentors, Dr. Inna Khazan. I use an acronym called S.N.A.K.  If you find it hard to remember, just imagine eating a small heart (you know because it is just a snack), and you should be able to recall it later when you need it.

SNAK stands for Sense, Name, Allow, and Kindness.

Sense: Notice what you are feeling in your body, your thoughts, or in your feelings.

Name: Name It. Don’t create a story around it. Limit it to one or a few words.  Anxiety, fatigue, rumination, tightness in the chest are good examples.

Allow: Ask yourself whether you might be able to allow or make space for it so that you can process it.  It is ok to say no in the beginning, and even sometimes down the road to give yourself time to be ready to process it.  That, in itself, is a kindness.

Kindness: Bring a loving or supportive awareness to your experience.  Ask yourself, how can I be kind to myself?  Sometimes, merely asking the question provides some relief.  Some ways that have been useful to others are: the ninja touch, appreciating how difficult it is to live in a body, taking a walk, grounding your feelings in something outside of what you are feeling such as noticing objects in a room or outside, allowing for a long outbreath (thing a 6 count outbreath like breathing through a straw) and a regular in breath for 5 to 10 times.  Whatever you choose, remember that we are not trying to change your experience (which is its own stress).  We are merely acknowledging your experience, and like we would with anyone we love, we are bringing kindness to it.  You can think of it like doing something nice for a sick child, parent, or friend.  We never ask them not to be sick.  We just notice the sickness and find some way to afford them some kindness.

If you are like me, and often take on a challenging road you will have lots of opportunities to practice.  Once I was on a plane flight to see my sister, and had recently injured my back.  I took some doctor prescribed relaxant before getting on the plane only to realize later that it made me feel like I was sinking through the plane.  I can think of better ways to spend my time! I will tell you that much.  Anyway, as I found myself suffering, I initially tried to avoid those feelings, which, of course, made it worse.  Hey! I’m human.   Then, I remembered my self-compassion practice.  Sense: I noticed what I was feeling in my body.  In this case, it was dread and anxiety.  Name: Then I named those feelings. Allow: I asked myself if I would make space for those feelings and it was difficult, but made easier by how I used my kindness.  Kindness: I repeated to myself in my mind with warmth and genuine compassion the word Acceptance.  It settled my body and mind because it reassured me that it was ok to feel this way.  I also made time to listen to some soothing music.  Before I knew it, we had landed.  I may have startled some people when I screamed, “I survived!” but there were some good-natured smiles that followed. 

Whatever your experience, may this be one more tool in your backpack to help you live a life with greater ease.  As always, I’m rooting for you!

365 Days of Kindness. Day 3.  In the books.