How can you expect to perform at your best if you have an edgy relationship with yourself?
Here is a helpful practice that I picked up from The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. It centers upon your most important relationship – that with yourself. It’s all about writing a letter of self-compassion to yourself. Try to do this practice once per week, or at least once per month. It might take about 15 minutes.
How Do You Do It?
First, identify something about yourself that makes you feel ashamed, insecure, or not good enough. It could be something related to your personality, behavior, abilities, relationships, or any other part of your life.
Once you identify something, write it down and describe how it makes you feel. Sad? Embarrassed? Angry? Try to be as honest as possible, keeping in mind that no one but you will see what you write.
The next step is to write a letter to yourself expressing compassion, understanding, and acceptance for the part of yourself that you dislike.
As you write, follow these guidelines:
Imagine that there is someone who loves and accepts you unconditionally for who you are. What would that person say to you about this part of yourself?
Remind yourself that everyone has things about themselves that they don’t like, and that no one is without flaws. Think about how many other people in the world are struggling with the same thing that you’re struggling with.
Consider the ways in which events that have happened in your life, the family environment you grew up in, or even your genes may have contributed to this negative aspect of yourself.
In a compassionate way, ask yourself whether there are things that you could do to improve or better cope with this negative aspect. Focus on how constructive changes could make you feel happier, healthier, or more fulfilled, and avoid judging yourself.
After writing the letter, put it down for a little while. Then come back to it later and read it again. It may be especially helpful to read it whenever you’re feeling bad about this aspect of yourself, as a reminder to be more self-compassionate.
Doing this exercise can create much need clarity while providing you the opportunity to openly and honestly love yourself. After all, bettering your most important relationship can only help you reach your highest potential or best self. Don’t you agree?