Self-Compassionate Letter

Find your good, yes, it is in there!

Duration:  10 minutes             Frequency:  Once a week

What do I need?  Pen, paper, and time alone.

How to do it

For this exercise, we’re going to work on insecurity.  Pick something that you are insecure about.  It could be related to your personality, behaviour, relationships, or any other part of your life.  Do not pick something that is traumatic for you.  Imagine a rating scale from 1 – 10, you’re choosing something around a three, light insecurity.

Once you identify something, write it down and label the emotions you feel.

I Feel Insecure About  __________________ and right now, I feel these emotions ______________________

Try to be as honest as you can, this is for you, not for anyone else to read.  Feel a sense of safety and security in yourself.  Find your feet on the ground to help this.

The next step is to write the letter, to yourself, from a place where you are your biggest ally.  Your best friend.  This is a letter of understanding, acceptance, and safety for the part of you that makes you feel insecure.

Please follow these guidelines:

Dear (insert your name)

1:  Imagine you are writing to someone that you deeply care about.  What would you say to that person?

2:  Tell that person WHY you love and care about them.

3:  Ask yourself – “What do I need right now?”  “How can I best take care of myself?”

4:  Focus on constructive, real-life, present moment ways to make yourself feel happier, more connection, less judgemental towards yourself

5:  After writing the letter, put it down, take time away from it.  Then read over it again and sense the flood of love and compassion you have for yourself.

Love (your name)

Why you should try it

We often speak to and judge ourselves worse than we do to anyone else.  Rather than a constant self-critical voice going on loop, this practice helps change the channel.  You begin to treat yourself with compassion and understanding.  This practice asks you to write to a part of yourself that makes you feel unliked.  Research shows that people who respond with compassion to their perceived flaws and mistakes, experience greater mental health.

Why it works

Shame and self-criticism can take up a lot of space and energy.  Self-compassion reduces this.  It helps you achieve personal growth.  The practice of letter writing in a self-compassionate voice, helps distil and eventually replace the negative one.  It takes time and practice.  Having a specific “Letters of Love” notebook can help you focus on this practice.  Try it at least once a week.

The research

Neff, K. D., & Germer, C. K. (2013). A pilot study and randomized controlled trial of the mindful self-compassion programJournal of Clinical Psychology, 69(1), 28-44.

Participants in an eight-week Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) program, which included practicing the self-compassionate letter, among other exercises, reported feeling greater self-compassion at the end of the program than they had at the beginning.

Photo by Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplash

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