Compassionate Letter to Oneself

Another simple practice from Chris Germer and Kristen Neff’s book Teaching the Mindful Self-Compassion Program: A Guide for Professionals is a “Compassionate Letter to Myself” (pp.245 & 248). Here, so I don’t forget, are various steps for this approach:

  • Notice your self-critical voice.
  • What are the words? or what is the tone of this voice? or even just the sense you get?
  • Get in touch with the part of you that feels criticized. How does it feel to get this message?
  • Optional: give yourself compassion/validate this pain.
  • Then turn towards your inner critic “with interest and curiosity.” Ask yourself WHY they give you this message? Could it be to protect or help you somehow?
  • If you can identify some way your inner critic might be trying to help, give them a few words of thanks.
  • Once your inner critic has been heard, see if you can make room for a different voice — your inner compassionate voice — a part of you that “loves and accepts you unconditionally… [and is] wise and clear-sighted.”
  • Use soothing touch, feel the warmth, and allow this compassionate self to emerge.
  • Find and repeat a phrase that “captures the essence of your compassionate voice.” The one that works for me for now is:
    • I cherish you and don’t want you to suffer any more.
  • Now you can start to write a little letter to yourself from your compassionate self — “freely and spontaneously.” What comes up for you as you repeat your phrase that captures the essence? What do you need to hear?

On page 248, they note that there are three approaches to writing a compassionate letter to yourself:

  1. From the perspective of the compassionate self to the struggling self.
  2. From the perspective of a compassionate other to oneself.
  3. From the compassionate self to another person.

Compassionate Speaking to Myself

Finally on page 249, they briefly mention how to address self-criticism in daily life, when you’re on the fly. You can simply speak to yourself “with the attitude ‘I love you and I don’t want you to suffer.'”