Dealing with Anxiety: a Self-Compassion Journaling Activity
Is there an area of your life where anxiety is holding you back? Perhaps your anxiety in this area of your life makes it hard for you to show up fully, if at all. Chances are it gets in the way of putting your best foot forward or being able to be yourself.
In this self-compassion journaling activity, you’re invited to write a letter to yourself expressing kindness regarding whatever it is that makes you anxious. This practice will help you to be more accepting of these difficult feelings and the way they interfere with how you’d like to live.
Step back from the experience
As you write, try to step back from the experience and view yourself and the anxious feelings from a distance. You’re going to write a letter to yourself, beginning with your name (“Dear _________”) and continuing as if you were your own friend.
The Self-Compassion Letter
1. Empathise with yourself, non-judgmentally.
In the first part of the letter, acknowledge what the situation is and how it makes you feel. Be as objective as possible, sticking to the facts of what the situation is and how you feel about it. Shorter is better, so try to keep it to 1-2 sentences.
e.g “The idea of having to strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know makes you feel really anxious. As a result, you avoid meeting anyone new.”
2. Remind yourself that there are other people who feel this way, too.
In the second part, write a note to yourself reminding yourself that though it may sometimes feel like it, you’re not the only one who struggles with anxiety. There are millions of people worldwide who report struggling with anxiety. It’s human to feel this way.
e.g. “Everyone gets anxious sometimes, and we all find different things anxiety-provoking. For you, it’s social situations. For someone else, it might be something else. You’re not alone.”
3. Show yourself compassion for the fact that anxiety holds you back in this area.
The purpose of anxiety is to warn you to avoid a situation, or remove yourself from it, because you could get hurt. In the third paragraph of your letter, remind yourself that anxiety specifically makes it difficult to do the thing that makes you anxious. This is an obstacle to show yourself kindness about, because the truth it, it makes things more difficult for you. It has nothing to do with how strong or deserving you are.
e.g. “Taking action in this area is going to be hard, because anxiety makes it hard. That’s okay. You're still worthy. You're more than your anxiety, and this can be overcome with the right tools.”
4. Finally, ask yourself, “Is there anything I can do to help?”
Then really listen to the answer... Maybe you could use a walk through your local park, or a phone call with a good friend. Perhaps you’re ready to give yourself the gift of learning the emotional intelligence habits to feel calm and content with the PositiveEQ course. Or maybe taking the time to write this letter, and show yourself some kindness, was just what you needed.