When we start practicing more self kindness and self compassion, we may be surprised to experience an increase in uncomfortable sensations and emotions. This is normal.
It can help to understand this by thinking about the metaphor of Backdraft that is offered to us through the Mindful Self-Compassion Training. When a fire is deprived of oxygen, it will explode when fresh air is introduced through an open door. When our hearts are hot with suffering—self-hatred, self-doubt—kind words can open the door of our hearts, causing an explosion of difficult feelings. Those feelings are not created by self-compassion practice; we are simply feeling them as they go out the door. It is a natural and necessary part of the healing process.
You can use a number of different practices to manage yourself when experiencing difficult emotions.
If you aren’t feeling overwhelmed, just allow the difficult feelings to linger in the background.
Explore where the feelings express themselves in your body, and see if you can allow them to be there.
It can help to mindfully focus on a single object such as the breath or the soles of your feet.
If you are feeling overwhelmed but the difficult feelings, redirect attention and become mindful of an external object like sound. Offer yourself kindness. For example, ask yourself “What do I need now?” and, perhaps soothing yourself with a warm bath, a cup of tea, petting an animal or connecting with a friend.