Compassionate Dialogue

Compassionate Dialogue

This exercise is the work of truly befriending and taking care of yourself. Working with a therapist is helpful, but no therapist (partner, friend, family member) can talk and shepherd your innermost self as closely as you can. We all need constant and gentle mirrors from trusted others reflecting our worth back to us. But ultimately, your healing has to come from you, to you.

Start with two different colored pens. You will be talking to two voices within you- the Kind Voice and the Upset Voice.

Identify the most unconditionally loving and kind voice or energy you can imagine. It might be from a beloved who is or who is not here, a mentor, a God, a hero, an animal, a place in nature, or even a hope-filled composite. This is your Kind Voice.

Now, identify the upset part of you that’s anxious or angry or sad. This is your Upset Voice.

Have the two voices talk to each other:

The Kind Voice sits patiently with you, hearing deeply and affirming the pain you are sharing. It doesn’t necessarily give answers and it definitely doesn’t give pat platitudes or rose-colored affirmations. Sometimes it’s simply a powerful witness to allow you to see yourself clearly and encourage your upset voice to continue sharing: I know, I see, that is very difficult, I am so sorry, etc. Or, it may ask questions challenging your thoughts. Or, it may remind you of your basic and unconditional worth. Each time you begin a thought from the Kind Voice, consider addressing yourself by a pet name or term of endearment.

The Upset Voice leaves nothing unsaid, especially things it doesn’t want to hear itself say. It can ask questions, demand answers, be petty, rage, release all its hurts, explain and repeat itself, want things to be different, etc.

Back and forth, the two talk much like in a therapy session- patiently exploring the upset voice with a tremendous amount of curiosity, steady connection, compassion and calm from the Kind Voice. The Kind Voice is always available to you and will never abandon you, no matter what.

Also, check out Letters From Love- a gorgeous project by Elizabeth Gilbert on Substack that isn’t so much a dialogue but a simple love letter from unconditional Love to you. Click the link (you don’t need to subscribe) to see videos of Elizabeth reading her own Letters From Love.