Sometimes, when life is difficult, and we may not have others immediately around to give us the support we need, we need an emotional boost, something to help to soothe us or give us a lift. That’s where the Compassionate Kitbag comes in. This is a homework I sometimes set for clients to support their wellbeing. Read on if you would like to create your own Compassionate Kitbag and reflect on what you might put in yours...
What’s a Compassionate Kitbag? A compassionate kit bag is, put simply, a selection of go-to items for whenever you feel in need of feeling restored. These can be stored in a little box or bag so you know where to find them when you need them. You can create something to keep at home, or even a mini set you can carry with you when you are out and about.
Create your own Compassionate Kitbag
Spend some time gathering and reflecting on a collection of objects which represent soothing and nurturing to you. These can be a mixture of calming or uplifting, depending on what you might need at different times. This is completely personal and unique to you. Focus on selecting things to encourage and experience feelings of soothing, calm, contentment and balance. Spend as much time as you need to ensure you find what works for you.
The items you select for your ‘Kitbag’ can be a work in progress and added to over time as you think of new objects. You can store these in a small bag or a box, or even create a mini go-to bag you can carry with you at all times. Try, if you can, to select a range which might appeal to all of the senses – sight, sound, touch, taste, smell.
For myself, I have some small items I keep by my desk - always a tiny shell, a small holiday souvenir from Thailand, a tiny tube of handcream and a small scented candle. Each of these items appeals to different senses.
If you would like to download these instructions in a printable document, click Compassionate Kitbag.
To get you started here’s a list of suggestions:
o Smells (eg. essential oils, perfume, hand cream)
o Soothing objects (eg. Pebble, shell, soft cloth, crystal)
o Memento connected with safety and calm (eg. souvenir, soft toy)
o Music/song lyrics (maybe a playlist)
o Poems / reading (copies of favourite poems, quotations, favourite book)
o Pictures / photos / postcards
o Tastes (eg. herbal tea / coffee / hot chocolate sachet, small bar of chocolate)
o Hobbies you enjoy (portable items or reminders of these); engaging puzzles
o Imagery or drawings (eg. of compassionate self or other, place of relaxation)
o Compassionate letter to self
For the purpose of your kitbag, it’s important that the items you choose are associated with nurturing yourself, creating a sense of calm, safeness and contentment. Steer clear of items which may remind you of sad or difficult times as we are aiming for a collection of items to soothe rather than stir up difficult emotions.
Chris Winson (blogger and well known on Twitter for his #365daysofcompassion initiative) writes beautifully about his compassionate kitbag on his blog here. There are some super suggestions which might inspire you further.
Putting together a Compassionate Kitbag is a simple, nurturing and helpful activity which will mean you have a box of meaningful and supportive cues you can turn to as often as you need. I wish you well in putting together your own self care selection. Be sure to dip into it regularly!
Credit for the original idea goes to Kate Lucre, a Compassioned Focused Therapist. I first learnt about this on one of her workshops.