Being a friend to myself: a self-reflection exercise

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This reflection exercise can help us understand if there’s a difference in the compassion we show to others and the compassion we show to ourselves.

During this reflection exercise, we’ll be reflecting on how we treat our friends and how we treat ourselves. We can do this either with pen and paper, or without.

You’ll need to put aside about 10 minutes to do this.

“Be gentle with yourself, learn to love yourself, to forgive yourself, for only as we have the right attitude toward ourselves can we have the right attitude toward others.” ~ Wilfred Peterson.

Taking a few moments to sit and settle into the present moment. Making ourselves comfortable. Allowing ourselves a few easy, deep breaths… with a sense of ‘letting go’ on the out-breath. Then allowing the breath to settle into a natural rhythm. Closing the eyes and scanning through the body from head to toe, noticing any areas where we’re subtly holding onto tension… and bringing some kindness to those areas. Perhaps even offering ourselves a silent inner ‘Awww…’, allowing our heart to melt a bit with each ‘Awww.’ If we like, using the out-breath as an opportunity to let go of tension a little bit more each time.

Now bringing to mind a time a close friend was suffering in some way. Maybe they made a mistake or felt rejected or inadequate in some way. How did you respond to your friend? What did you say? What tone of voice did you use? What gestures did you use? Did you hug them or make physical contact in some reassuring way?

Writing down or remembering what we have discovered.

Now bringing to mind times we have suffered. Maybe we made a mistake or felt rejected or inadequate in some way. How did we respond to ourselves? What did we say? What tone of voice did we use? What gestures did we use? Did you hug ourselves or use a soothing touch to reassure ourselves?

Writing down or remembering what we have discovered.

Now letting go of any images or memories and comparing notes. Is there a difference in the way we treat ourselves and others?

If we find a difference, can we bring some acceptance and forgiveness to this discovery? Perhaps placing a hand on our heart or giving our arm a reassuring rub. We’re all hard on ourselves or others at times. This is normal. So it’s okay, if you discovered that.

Perhaps there’s some intention you’d like to make, coming out of this exercise?

And if you find this experience has been difficult for you, you might want to try using a Self-Compassion Break… and feel free to get in touch.

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Content gratefully adapted from the Mindful Self-Compassion Teacher Training Course. Lyndi is a graduate of this course, based on the work of Kristin Neff and Chris Germer. Find out more or register for an MSC course in Brisbane.

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