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How To Cultivate Self-Compassion

Part 2. Being a friend to yourself through letter writing

Something radical happens when you choose to become your own best friend. We all have insecurities or things we don’t like about ourselves, it’s a part of the human condition. Have you ever noticed how you talk to a friend when they’re struggling? Usually when it comes to other people, especially the people we love, compassion for suffering feels natural. Why is it that when we speak to ourselves we often lose that gentleness, understanding, and compassion?

With inspiration from one of the world’s leading self-compassion expert, Dr. Kristin Neff, we created a 4 part series on cultivating self-compassion through writing. Today we’re sharing a 3 step practice on how to be a friend to yourself through letter writing. Grab a pen and paper and follow along!

Self-compassion Exercise 2: Letter writing

  1. CREATE an imaginary friend

    Okay, it might feel awkward at first but try to create an imaginary friend, or what we sometimes call, your “higher self.” Close your eyes and envision (or draw) your imaginary friend. Understand that this friend is unconditionally accepting and compassionate. This friend knows your struggles, traumas, and life history. They know your strengths and weaknesses, they know your authentic self. This friend recognizes the limits of human nature and is forgiving and kind. This friend is wise and loving, and they know that your struggles are connected to many things outside of your control. They know about it all; they give compassion for all the things that have happened in your life to create you as who you are in this moment.


    Set a timer for 5 minutes (or however long you feel comfortable) and write about what your struggling with right now. Write about self-judgments or criticisms you have about yourself and anything that caused you pain or suffering. Remember to use an objective approach and write about your stress and discomfort without judgment.

  3. Write a letter to yourself from the perspective of your imaginary friend

    Think back on how you would react to a close friend who is struggling. How would you respond? What would you say and what tone would you say it in? Now focus back in on what you wrote during your 5 minute journaling session. Write a letter to yourself from the perspective of your imaginary friend, or your “higher self.” Remember that this friend is accepting, kind, and compassionate. They understand you and your life history. What would this friend say to you about your insecurities, struggles, or judgments? In what tone would they say it in? How would this friend show compassion and unconditional love to you and your pain? Do you think this friend would suggest changes you should make? How would they suggest them compassionately and understanding of your situation and the outside factors at play? As you write, keep in mind that this friend advocates for you, they are rooting for you, your health and happiness because you deserve it.

Make sure to check in with how you’re feeling after this exercise. What sensations are happening in your body? Can you feel a shift of energy since you began the exercise? Do you feel better, worse, confused? Whatever you’re feeling, know that your feelings are valid. There is no wrong way to do this exercise, and try to give yourself grace and maybe a pat on the back because self-compassion work is hard! But you’re here, trying, and that’s what should be celebrated!

Need help getting started with self-compassion journaling? We created a free self-paced 5 day self-compassion journal challenge. Click the button below to sign up.


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