Self-Compassion – An Open Letter to Myself

by | 2 Nov 2015 | Coaching

Dear Rachel

Yes, I know it feels strange, receiving a letter from yourself.

Strange too, to hear yourself addressed as ‘dear’ by me, when all too often you feel only criticism, coldness and disappointment. But you are dear to me as well, even if I don’t often allow myself to show or express it.

I know how hard it is for you to ask for something from others, when you learned from an early age to not make a fuss; to put others first; to be admired for your independence, self-sufficiency and thoughtfulness.

I know how hurt you have been on the few occasions you have reached out to those you trusted and cared for, when you were met by a thoughtless “not now, I’ve something more important to see to,” – or just as bad, by irritation and bad grace at the inconvenience.

I understand your surprise, hurt and guilt at the rejection; remember, it is not you that is being rejected, just the request. And others do not see just how much it takes for you to make the request at all.

Their rejection is about their ‘stuff’, not yours.

It’s so easy, and understandable to allow this to spiral into feeling like a martyr, sacrificing yourself for the causes of others whilst receiving less than your worth in return.

In your heart, you know that’s not true – you want to be a generous, loving person, giving freely without expectation. And you know the secret is to not give away more than you can afford – to hold your boundaries firmly and kindly, so you can continue to be a resource for others to draw on.

You are not wrong, not a bad person just because you want to be appreciated for what you do; we just can’t expect others to hold the same values that we do – perhaps we could practice appreciating ourself instead!

You know, I admire and love your courage, and willingness to be vulnerable.

I like the way you have managed to break out of past patterns of cynicism and bitching. It’s a gift to look for the good in others, not the ‘weakness’ or gullibility you once feared.

So what if occasionally there are those that take advantage? There are many, many more who do not; it’s your way of being the change you want to see.

This is so hard, writing this letter of compassion to self.

I hear the critic in my head shouting “But! But! But!” to every compassionate positive I express, overeager to point out the exceptions, the failures, the arguments.

And paradoxically, the clearer I hear that critic the more compassionate I feel towards you, because that is not an easy or fair voice to live with.

It’s wearing and exhausting, overly smug in its condemnation.

Yes, our critic has good intentions for bringing humility, high standards and improvement but somehow we’ve allowed that voice to demand too much; it is nowhere near the balanced truth.

And I know we thrive in a place of compassionate, gentle nurture and encouragement building on what’s good, not a cold, demanding harshness, with the focus on what’s wrong.

Let’s support each other to bring more of the former into our inner landscape.

With warmest regards, and even love



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