Writing for Self-Compassion
A lack of self-compassion is common in our highly competitive society. By learning to treat ourselves with kindness and compassion we can increase our contentment, emotional well-being, resilience, and courage. This exercise is designed to help cultivate and promote self-compassion through writing.
First, write about an aspect of yourself that you judge and dislike. Next, write a letter to yourself from the perspective of a good friend and then read it aloud while practicing taking in the good.
- Choose an aspect of yourself or life that you dislike and criticize. It can be something that makes you feel ashamed, unworthy, inadequate, or self-conscious.
- Examples may include appearance, career, relationships, health, etc.
- Write in detail about how this perceived inadequacy makes you feel. What thoughts, images, emotions, or stories arise when you think about it?
- Now, recall or imagine a friend or family member who is unconditionally loving, accepting, and supportive.
- Imagine that this person knows everything about you, including your background, genes, upbringing, and who you really are as a person. Imagine they know all if the various factors and events that have lead up to your life right now.
- Now write a letter to yourself from that friend about how they view and explain your perceived shortcoming.
- Write from a place of deep kindness, understanding and non-judgmental acceptance.
- Keep in mind that all beings are imperfect, and want to be happy and free from suffering.
- After you finish writing, read the letter aloud to yourself and pay attention to how it makes you feel.
- Later read the letter again, practicing taking in the good and experiencing how it feels in your body, heart, and mind.
- Feel the love, compassion, and acceptance that exist within you.
This method was adapted from Kristen Neff’s self-compassion exercise called Exploring Self-Compassion Through Writing. Additional exercises can be found on her website www.self-compassion.org
Don’t be discouraged if you do not immediately feel compassion for yourself after writing this letter. Self-compassion takes time to develop and you are taking steps to cultivate it by doing this exercise.
Kristin Neff explains self-compassion