Think about a current struggle you’re going through in your life—one that’s not too serious. For example, maybe you had a fight with your partner and you said something you regret. Or maybe you really blew it on a work assignment and you’re frightened your boss is going to call you in for a meeting to reprimand you.

• Write down the situation.

First write down any ways you may be lost in the story line of the situation and running away with it. Is it all you can think about, or are you making a bigger deal out of things than is warranted? For example, are you terrified that you will be fired even though the mistake was pretty minor?

• Now see if you can mindfully acknowledge the pain involved in this situation without exaggerating it or being overly dramatic. Write down any painful or difficult feelings you may be having, trying to do so with a relatively objective and balanced tone. Validate the difficulty of the situation, while trying not to get overly caught up in the story line of what you’re feeling. For example: “I’m feeling really frightened that I will get in trouble with my boss after this incident. It’s difficult for me to feel this right now.

Next write down any ways you may be feeling isolated by the situation, thinking that it shouldn’t have happened or that you’re the only one who has been in this situation. For example, are you assuming that your work should be perfect and that it’s abnormal to make mistakes? That no one else at your work makes these types of mistakes?

Now try to remind yourself of the common humanity of the situation—how normal it is to have feelings like this and the fact that many people are probably experiencing feelings similar to yours. For example: “I guess it’s natural to feel frightened after making a mistake at work. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, and I’m sure many other people have been in a similar situation to what I’m facing right now.

Next write down any ways you may be judging yourself for what happened. For example, are you calling yourself names (“stupid idiot”) or being overly harsh with yourself (“You are always messing up. Why can’t you ever learn?”)? • Finally, try writing yourself some words of kindness in response to the difficult emotions you are feeling. Write using the same type of gentle, supportive words you might use with a good friend you cared about. For example: “I’m so sorry that you’re feeling frightened right now. I’m sure it will be okay, and I’ll be here to support you whatever happens.” Or else, “It’s okay to make mistakes, and it’s okay to feel scared about consequences. I know you did your best”

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