Create your own self-compassion script

Failure and setbacks are inevitable. How we talk to ourselves in those moments can influence how we cope with them. Developing a self-compassion script can assist us in talking to ourselves in a kinder and more helpful way. In this post, learn how to write your own self-compassion script. Reading time ~ 5 minutes. 

Last week I was involved in training some people to deliver the Be Well Plan.

One of the topics we spent some time exploring was self-compassion.

Self-compassion is the act of being kind to ourselves during times of failure, mistakes, or feeling inadequate. It can be conceptualised as a voice we adopt in talking to ourselves, that seeks to balance a human tendency to self-criticism.

Kristin Neff is a leader in the self-compassion area. Her website is a central resource for those wishing to learn about self-compassion. The description on that website is as follows:

“Self-compassion is simply the process of turning compassion inward.  We are kind and understanding rather than harshly self-critical when we fail, make mistakes or feel inadequate.  We give ourselves support and encouragement rather than being cold and judgmental when challenges and difficulty arise in our lives. Research indicates that self-compassion is one of the most powerful sources of coping and resilience we have available to us, radically improving our mental and physical wellbeing. It motivates us to make changes and reach our goals not because we’re inadequate, but because we care and want to be happy. This website offers information about self-compassion, as well as research, guided practices and a way to test your own self-compassion level. It’s a good place to start on your journey of leaning to be more self-compassionate.”

Self-compassion is a valuable psychological capacity to develop, especially studying or working at a university, where we are pushed to the edges of our ability and inevitably experience setbacks, failures, difficulties, and challenges.

So how is it developed?

One way of developing our self-compassionate voice, which made it into the Good Vibes Activity Book (still available to order for those that want one) involves creating your own self-compassion script


What is a self-compassion script?

Think of it as an affirmation or personal mantra to be used during times of significant distress, setback, failure, mistake, or whoopsie.

The goal of such a script is to disrupt you falling into a funk, descending into ruminatory self-hatred and instead repurpose you to get back into the game. It is a reminder that whether we like it or not, setbacks and failures and mistakes are part of the human experience and that being kind to ourselves is the ultimate way out and forward, not to turn on ourselves. 

In the exercise we provide a sample script. It goes as follows:

This is a moment of suffering and I’m feeling [insert feeling]

I need to remind myself that suffering is a part of life and this setback and the difficult feelings I am experiencing are not a sign that I am a broken human being. 

On the contrary, I am in good company as everyone will make mistakes and experience setbacks. 

May I be kind to myself in this moment and use [insert own strategies] to help calm and ground me. 

And when I am ready, I can look at what i can do to try and fix the situation or accept it and move forwards. 

Not bad, but it does have the obvious vibe of a mental health professional. It isn’t language you would necessarily use yourself. 

So, the exercise invites you to rewrite it! 

I did this exercise a while back. I was having one of those days where a particular setback was haunting me. So, I tried writing a script that would bolster me in my attempts to confront that haunting. 

It went a bit like this:


Another day haunted

Miserable as f*&k

But it will pass and lessen over time

Also, people will understand and help if you reach out

Things go ballz for everyone at some point. You aren’t the first to be haunted by such things. 

You got this. Look after yourself G.

You will rise again and build something even better next time

Take that mofos!

The key elements of a self-compassion script are there:

  • Acknowledgement that something has gone wrong
  • Noticing how you are feeling right now
  • Remind yourself that suffering of this type isn’t because you are broken, it is part of the human experience
  • A reminder to reach out for assistance and that people will understand
  • A reminder to be kind to self
  • A little kick in the pants to get moving on fixing or rebuilding

Reading it back today, I was a little surprised at how intense it was, but at the time, given what I was dealing with I needed that kind of language to snap me out of becoming mopey and avoidant.

I tried it again today, but being in a different place in my life, it had a different feel to it. Maybe a little warmer.

My energy is low

I feel myself winding down but feeling ashamed for doing so

But if I am honest, I can see others doing it as well. It’s been a busy year and needing rest is a normal part of being human. 

Go slow, one step at a time, knowing each step will move you forward. Be kind to yourself on those days where motivation is zero. 

Rest properly and the energy and momentum will return. There is no need to get angry with yourself. You wouldn’t get angry at others in the same position. 

What I liked in this version was the reminder that I should talk to myself how I would talk to others in the same position. I know from experience that I am much kinder to others in this scenario than I am to myself.

Thus, I have learned that it is a useful exercise to write a self-compassion script but also to re-write them over time, as your circumstances change.

Give it a go!!


The first part is writing it, the second part is using it

Writing the script is just the first part of the process. The second part is getting better at delivering these words to yourself when you need it, namely, at a point of failure, setback, mistake or feeling inadequate.

If you’ve had a long history of talking critically to yourself at difficult moments, it will take some work to shift that voice.

A simple start is to practice the script at set points during the day, regardless of whether you are experiencing a setback. This might mean reciting it in your head as your brush your teeth or grab your morning coffee. Perhaps run the script at the end of the day, before going to sleep, as you think back over the day and notice any small mistakes. Recite it in your head (or out loud) like you might a prayer or an affirmation. As the script becomes second nature, you are more likely to be able to wield it during emotionally charged situations.

If the words don’t feel right as you recite it, feel free to go back and rewrite it. Each of us needs to find the right words to express the underlying ideas. As long as you are capturing the following, you are on the right track.

  • Acknowledgement that something has gone wrong
  • Noticing how you are feeling right now
  • Remind yourself that suffering of this type isn’t because you are broken, it is part of the human experience
  • A reminder to reach out for assistance and that people will understand
  • A reminder to be kind to self and to treat yourself like you’d treat a loved one
  • A light but friendly kick in the pants to get moving on fixing or rebuilding

If you come up with a great one, feel free to share in the comments below.

Oh yeah, as a side note, Good Vibes Activity Books are still available for order and you may well find some at Oasis or FUSA.

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Good Vibes Experiment

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