How to Soothe Ourselves and Others

How to Soothe Ourselves and Others

It’s the middle of the night, let’s imagine,
and we’ve been on the earth for about three months. A lot is still very unclear. We are
profoundly helpless, barely able to move our own head and utterly at the mercy of others.
The sources of our suffering and joy lie far outside our understanding. Hugely powerful
needs pass through us at regular intervals and we have no way of making sense of them
to ourselves – let alone of communicating them reliably to others. A minute ago, we
were asleep in a dark enveloping warmth. Now we’re awake, bereft, isolated and very uncomfortable.
There seems to be a pain somewhere in our stomach, but the agony is more general; we
are lonely and profoundly sad. The room is dark and there’s a mysterious set of shadows
on the wall that appear and vanish at random. In a rising panic, we start to scream out
in the darkness. Nothing happens. We pause to recover our breath – and then scream
even louder. Our lungs strain with the effort. Still nothing and the darkness and loneliness
grow ever more threatening. Now true desperation sets in; this feels like the end of everything
good and true – and we scream as if to ward off death. At last, just when it seems we
could not go on any further, the door opens. A warm orange light is turned on. It is a
familiar face. They smile at us, say the name they often use around us, pick us up and put
us against their shoulder. We can hear a familiar heart beating next to ours and a warm hand
caressing the top of our head. They gently move us to and fro, and sing a tender, sweet
song. Our sobs start to abate, we pull a weak smile; it feels like the vicious demons and
merciless goblins have been sent packing – and that life could be bearable after all. Image
result for mother and child painting Soothing is one of the kindest gestures that humans
ever perform for one another. It must lie close to the core of love – and is what
can make the difference between a desire to die and the capacity to endure. Awkwardly,
it tends to be very hard to soothe ourselves unless we have first – usually in childhood
– been properly soothed by someone else. A capacity for self-soothing is the legacy
of a history of nurture. If we have been picked up enough times early on, and sufficiently
reassured in the midst of panic that we will make it, then one part of the mind learns
the art and can practice it on the other – and eventually, on people outside us too. At moments
of crisis, we find ourselves able to access a voice that calms the waves of fear and the
blows of self-hatred: we can sort this out; we’ll have a conversation with them; people
understand; screw them if they don’t; what matters is you; you are good and valuable.
We have available an unflustered, resolute response as much to the most awful events
as to routine panics. We have a faith that we can endure, that something will show up
and that we don’t deserve the worst. Reflecting on the art of soothing may bring into focus
just how much we are missing. We are not mysteriously deficient, we were brought up by adults who
were themselves not soothed. We need to grow attentive and deeply sympathetic to the missing
pieces of our psyche. It is because we didn’t benefit from soothing that life is so much
harder than it should be; that nowadays rejection is so bitter, social media is so frightening,
disapproval feels so fatal, ambiguity is so unbearable, sleep feels so unearnt, holidays
are so worrying, the caresses of others feel so alien – and so many of our days and nights
are rocked by what feel like near-death experiences. Image result for mother and child painting
There are – one must believe – substitutes and opportunities for catching up. We can
have recourse to music, diaries, beds, baths but, most importantly, other people. However,
seeking out the sort of people who can soothe us may be the hardest step. We may mistake
a capacity to soothe for weakness or naivety. We may take the soother for a fool. We may
need soothing so much, we find ourselves unable to ask for it nicely, shouting counter-productively
instead – or else we withdraw into defensive independence, because help feels like it hasn’t
come soon enough. Those in the greatest need of soothing often have no idea of what is
missing, no sensible way of articulating their need – and a dogged suspicion of kindness
were it to be offered to them. We should strive not to make things constantly scarier in our
own minds than they are in reality. We should offer soothing continuously to others – and
insist to the more sceptical and parched parts of our own minds that they too deserve one
day to be the beneficiaries of kindness and reassurance. Thank you for watching, remember to like the video and subscribe to our channel for more. Our calm prompt cards can help us find serentiy despite daily anxieties and fustraitions. To find out more click on the link now.


  1. so….were you going to explain how to self soothe or are you just TRYING to be a fucking twat. Jesus FUCKING christ. P.S. Your video didn't help….like…AT ALL.

  2. I like to think of the universe and how big it is. and how nothing really matters and strangely that motivates and refreshes me

  3. Could do with a bit more info on this subject. Perhaps a follow up video that expands on self soothing a bit more. It would be helpful to include some more of the ideas / thoughts of psychologists and philosophers who have written on this subject.

  4. Today I broken up with and kicked out my 'boyfriend' because he threatened me and then physically abused me. Over these last two years I have wondered about what our issues were and I did exactly what this video said I would do.. I isolated myself and kept silent when he mistreated me with his lashing out.. I knew something was wrong but I couldn't understand what it was.. I couldn't see that he needed soothing from me and I needed it from him and that neither of us knew how to give it.. This video has touched my broken heart and settled my nervous mind. The hurt marks will fade and I will recover.. but the best part is now being able to understand what I've been going through. To my family and friends who support me, and the people who took a moment of their lives to bring this video into the lives of others (like me), and to anyone else who is willing to take a few hits in order to stand their ground and do what is right for the goodness that is their existence:

    Thank-you, very much, for living as you do!

  5. Whoever needs this including myself:
    be kind to yourself. You deserve it. You may not see it now. But with time you will. You’ll see it. The world tortures you and your mind tortures you. Let yourself mourn. Do it but keep in mind that you have to get back up. Don’t mourn too long but still. Mourn for yourself. Let yourself love yourself. Do what you have to do. Sometimes our “vague” and “shallow” yearnings have a deeper meaning to us. You are you. You can love yourself if you let it happen.

  6. One of my greatest soothers is music. When I was younger it was listening to music that I related to. I still love listening to music, but on a much more intimate level I've taken to humming. I have a fairly rich baritone voice. When I hum simple, low and slow major scale melodies it calms me like nothing else. I am an analytical thinker and can be quite intense. Humming grounds me, makes me aware of my body and the resonance of the pleasant vibrations. My mind interprets it as peace, love and well being. The melodies I hum are reminiscent of the songs sung by my grandmother when I was a child. To anyone who thinks self soothing is immature: How mature is drinking oneself to death or gambling, smoking, overeating, drugs or any other vice that masquerades as an adult pastime? Peace.

  7. I've watched tons of videos from The School of Life and Psych2Go and both of those channels have done more for my emotional, mental and physical health than any kind of therapy has ever done for me. It answers questions I've always had but could never receive a proper answer to, it reassures me within my thoughts, gives me comfort and courage that I will last and get through this and that I am not alone in this but surrounded by many who wish to be found as I do. My life is slowly improving as a result and I even had the courage to sit at a table with a stranger and strike up a conversation, which went well might I add and though it didn't lead to anything, the simple act allowed me to better be able to do it again, despite the outcome.

  8. I have been wondering where they get their source material. It seems like a clear view of psychology as a meta-narrative.

  9. Such a powerful demonstration of such complex feelings! The baby felt soo real, it was me! And it was everyone else at the same time!

  10. Another masterpiece! And yes, VERY soothing. Love how you mentioned music. And I wish everyone the gift of some form of mindfulness meditation (try them all!)- it is one of the kindest things you can do for yourself (and it adds to our collective happiness, as well).

  11. out of all SoL vids this one has resonated with me the most. (tho i relate with other vids and essays too but this…just this.) i cried while watching

  12. Basically, we in to accept that soothing is necessary to everyone.Give soothing to others and have ppl in life who would sooth u as well

  13. I wish I could tag people I know someone whom this might help but sending this right now is probably not the best time.

  14. I was talking about this with my psychologist yesterday. I had a really bad panic attack and this video sums up why. It's ok to ask for soothing from someone else. You are talking care of yourself by asking for help, it's not a burden to people because you are the one making decisions. Practice asking for little things first and you'll see how good it feels and how empowering it is.

  15. I do so love the narration of these videos, but I must confess the artwork is often awfully disturbing and then i find I require soothing.

  16. Please do not look to drugs and alcohol to soothe yourself. Find better and healthier ways. Even though I know it’s easier said than done.

  17. it took me so long to realize it was a baby until the orange light turned on. omg like i knew the womb thing, but the it got hectic for them with the shadows and i completely forgot

  18. what of the life context even if the care giver can soothe they themselves might be deeply suffering because of their own context, history, current events – we're always so focussed on the inside a place we cannot know while often leaving life context the only thing we can really see and describe out of the loop – psychology has internalised the world – its never the world just your perception of it

  19. I love the varied artwork of these recent School of Life videos – a feast for the eyes! Very enjoyable to see all these different styles.

  20. Fascinating, to say the least. I've spent my whole life feeling aline, told and showed i was wrong. I'm naturally soft inside and have longed for better human nature, but conscience enough to know we all have faults and are influenced by so many things. I now understand it is an individual thibg. Some are king, some are mran and some just dgaf either way. Truth, some do have it harder than others, but that isn't the factor that stops happiness, at all. I hope to one day feel a sense of gratitude for the many folks who have showed me ugly behavior, as it is this that has taught me my greatest lessons. I do wish more people would recognize but i undetstand human nature at my age. We're all full of this BS, some check themselves, some go all in on it. Thank you

  21. This is helpful but misleading in saying it is a matter of the mind or psyche. Studies into Adverse Childhood Experiences show the impact of this kind of neglect on our biological functioning, making potentially permanant changes to your nervous system, brain function and immune system setting us up for risk of inflammatory diseases and an inability to self- soothe and cope with life's stresses. It not so much psychological issue as a biological one but certainly the things described in this video to help are essential to healing these issues.

  22. Glad this channel decided to take a turn into positive informative vibes. It used to leave me apathetic & hopeless because the slaps of reality. They left me feeling like Micheal Scott on The Office when he gave his "fun run" speech about the status of the world after collapsing from dehydration and over consumption of fettuccine alfredo. Keep up the good vibes guys 🌻

  23. My sister killed herself yesterday. I was the last one to speak to her. She was crying out for help and I judged and ignored her.

  24. This is why professional cuddling exists. We all need to be soothed, and so many of us can’t get our needs met in our lives as they are and/or don’t even know how to make that happen, so we need a dedicated professional therapy practitioner there to help us on our journey of self growth and self care.

  25. I wish the illustrations were less abstract or distracting. They don't directly explain the words being said. I am a very visual person and my brain gets so focused on tiny details of these illustrations that it's a pain for me to divert it back to your words.

  26. I just love what you do for people, myself included. It is truly valuable and so many of these lessons ring true, not in a general or cliche way. Thank you.

  27. I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart, School of Life! You have been and continue to be a profoundly positive influence in my life. <3

  28. You're so amazing. You're sharing, what I wish to share. I hope you have all luck with your channel and if you ever have work, let me know I'd give my anything to change the number of unhappy people. Because we all deserve to be
    ~A friendly artist

  29. IDK why but i find myself not trusting on what people tell me .. i kinda dont believe any of their good comments towards me … i always feel like they're lying

  30. Video : it’s the middle of the night let’s imagine ~~~

    ( as I’m watching this in the middle of the night in my patio )

  31. 4:11–4:30 "we may mistake a capacity to soothe for weakness or naivety. We may take the soother for a fool….unable to ask for it nicely…"
    I've done this..I didn't understand why those feelings were so intense and there in the first place. Especially with people I cared for and cared for me. Intergenerational trauma is worth looking into for insight. Thank you for your posts

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