by Diane Linsley
Compassionate self-talk is both a practice and a natural outcome of
talk to someone whom we love and want to support and encourage.
You can think of compassionate self-talk as the opposite of the
Inner Critic. Most of us practice self-criticism way too much. We
need to train ourselves to be more compassionate.
Overcoming Negative Emotions
Compassionate self-talk can be used to transform any negative
emotion. Here's an example of how I used it to overcome fear.
1. Admit that you are fearful. "I'm feeling fearful about leading the
group. Even though I know what I'm doing, I still feel nervous."
2. Now switch to the voice of self-compassion. Reflect back the feelings, and reassure yourself that it's normal under the circumstances. "I understand that you are feeling anxious. It's normal to feel this way. Lots of people feel nervous when speaking in front of groups."
3. Reframe the situation in a positive light. "Your nervousness shows how much you care about people and that you want to do a good job."
4. Give yourself encouragement. "You're a good person with lots of knowledge to share. I know you'll be fine. You are always learning new things and getting better at communicating with others."
5. Now switch back to speaking in the first person, and express positive feelings. "I'm excited to have this opportunity. I'm grateful for my job because it gives me lots of opportunities for personal growth."
Notice how this seems to be a conversation between two different people. It starts with the "I" who is feeling fearful, followed by the person who is giving encouragement, and then ends with the "I" who is now feeling more positive.
You can use this basic format for any emotion - sadness, anger, guilt, shame, confusion or frustration.
One of my favorite ways to practice compassionate self-talk is to say something nice to myself every time I look in a mirror. Here are some simple steps for this practice:
1. Look into your own eyes.
2. Say something kind or encouraging.
3. Do this for the rest of your life :)
When I go into a public restroom, I often find myself observing how other women look at themselves in the mirror (if they look at all). It saddens me when I see a woman frowning at herself. I can almost hear the critical voice in her head.
As my teacher Bill Harris says, "Awareness is everything." The more aware we are of the voices in our heads, the more control we have over what we say to ourselves.
My Mirror Kensho
In early 2009, about one year after I started doing Holosync meditation, I had my first kensho. It was one of the greatest spiritual experiences of my life. I woke up on a Sunday morning feeling groggy after an exhausting nightmare during which I was being chased by a witch. I had been running from house to house, trying to find a safe place to hide. She finally cornered me, and I turned around to face her with my heart pounding. Then I woke up. This is a typical dream about running from shadow material. As I was getting ready for church that morning, I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror, curling my hair. For many years, ever since my jaw got broken, I had been reluctant to look at myself in the mirror because I thought I was ugly.
For some reason, I did something different that day. I looked into my own eyes, and I heard myself thinking the words, "You don't look too bad today." That's the best compliment I'd ever given myself.
At that moment, something very strange happened. I suddenly experienced myself as 3 different people standing in different places in the bathroom. The first person was the me who was looking into the mirror. The second person was the one who was looking back out of the mirror. The third person was a disembodied Being standing on my right shoulder. I felt the feelings and heard the thoughts of each of these 3 people because I was all of them simultaneously.
The me who was looking into the mirror said, in a childlike voice, "Mother?" I thought I was seeing a Goddess in the mirror, except that it was me, which was very confusing. She was the most beautiful person I'd ever seen. She appeared to be my own soul a thousand years in the future.
The person in the mirror looked back at me with a look of unconditional love and compassion that was so overwhelming that I burst out crying. I experienced the compassionate feelings of the person in the mirror because I was also her.
The person who was standing on my shoulder was just observing the interaction between the first two people. She had no emotions, except for a sense of curiosity. All she said was, "Isn't that interesting."
The whole incident lasted less than 10 seconds, but it changed me forever. It took months to figure out what it meant. I eventually came to understand that the me looking into the mirror was my ego (Diane). The me who was looking back out of the mirror was my higher self (or future self). The disembodied me on my shoulder was the Witness (pure awareness).
These are the three different aspects of who we are. If you are a Christian, you may recognize these aspects of the Trinity in the story of Jesus getting baptized. There was Jesus in the river, God the Father speaking from heaven, and the Holy Ghost - the dove that alighted on Jesus's shoulder to witness the event. The story tells about the Father's unconditional love of the Son.
Over the years, I've looked for my higher self in the mirror many times. I've never had the same experience again, but I have had other interesting experiences. You never know what you might see when you look deeply into your own eyes!
Ever since I met my higher self, I have gradually developed more compassion. I am coming closer to being like my higher self. I also trust the guidance of my higher self because I know she loves me.
Compassion for Everyone
The way you talk to yourself affects how you communicate with others. Even when you don't speak your thoughts out loud, people can feel the vibration of your energy.
Compassionate self-talk is a way to train yourself to communicate more compassionately - starting with yourself. A person who is at peace with their self will be at peace with everyone.
"The biggest embrace of love you'll ever make is to embrace yourself completely. Then you'll realize you've just embraced the whole universe, and everything and everybody in it." ~Adayashanti
Here's a Loving Kindness meditation. It's based on the traditional Buddhist practice called Metta Bhavana. Studies show heightened levels of compassion and better brain function in people who practice Metta meditation.
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