Compassionate Self-Talk
by Diane Linsley

Compassionate self-talk is both a practice and a natural outcome of
self-compassion. It involves talking to ourselves the way we would
talk to someone whom we love and want to support and encourage.

You can think of compassionate self-talk as the opposite of the
voice 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 how much 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. Express positive feelings. "I'm excited to have this speaking opportunity. I'm grateful for my job because it gives me so many 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.

Mirror Practice

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 glaring or 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 her, going from house to house, trying to find a safe place. She finally cornered me, and I turned around to face her with my heart pounding. Then I woke up.

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 was 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 first person said to the second person, 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 seemed to be a thousand years old, yet eternally young.

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.

The person who was standing on my shoulder was just watching 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 for about 10 seconds, but it changed me forever. It took me months to integrate this experience and 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 soul. The disembodied me who was standing on my shoulder was the Witness (pure awareness).

These are the three different aspects of who we are. When I tell people about this experience, I refer to the New Testament 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 and acceptance of his Son.

Over the years, I've looked for my soul in the mirror many times. I've never had the same experience again, but I have had other interesting experiences. I also see how I am developing more compassion - like my soul. And I have learned to trust my soul's guidance 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 himself 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. Research shows heightened levels of compassion in people who practice Metta meditation.

Be well,
Diane Linsley

As a life coach, I use many different processes to help
people with their personal growth. Click here if you are
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