Three steps towards compassion

January 4, 2016

Humanity’s collective mission in the cosmos lies in the practice of compassion. 

  • Daisaku Ikeda


Ever started daydreaming about something you would love to do, only to be cut short by some mean-hearted voice inside of yourself? ‘Be practical’, it says, or ‘Stop being silly’… something along those lines, anyway. And as soon as you start to feel wounded by those words, you beat yourself up by thinking ‘stop feeling sorry yourself!’

Those unkind words were probably something you heard as a child, or at some point in life when you felt vulnerable, and the person who said them may well have wanted to protect you from feeling disappointed by your high hopes. But as an adult who is safe and well, those words are very limiting. False beliefs and self-censorship can make us feel powerless and unhappy at a time in our lives when hope is what we need.

A great way I have found of turning my negative views around into positive ones is by writing them down before they get on top of me. Say I’m having a difficult day, and I suddenly realise that in various ways I’ve been telling myself that I’m ‘no good’, I sit down and think about what that dark voice inside me is saying. It might read something like this:

  1. ‘I’m no good to anyone. I’m rubbish at what I do.’


(I’ve written the number ‘1’ next to the statement because this is the start of a 3 step process.)


Then I look at those words with my more compassionate, wise self, and write down underneath what I think I’m doing to myself by saying those things. But I don’t just write it down ‘normally’ in a way that makes grammatical sense… I write it down by using ‘active’ rather than ‘passive’ language. This is language that acknowledges that I have a CHOICE. The rule for doing this is that the sentence has be as simple as possible, and that it identifies the sort of negative trait that I’m stuck in. For example, I might realise that by walking around thinking ‘I’m no good to anyone’, I’m being my old depressive, anxious person. In which case I’ll write:


  1. ‘I am DOING depression. I am DOING anxiety’.


By doing this I am acknowledging that I have a choice and that I can choose better. The ‘doing’ is the active language. Don’t worry if it makes your sentences sound silly!


The last stage – stage 3 – is that I start a new line and write the opposite of what that nagging little voice was saying to me. Something like:


‘I’m brilliant at helping people and I’m great at what I do.’


See what I did? It’s the opposite of ‘’I’m no good to anyone. I’m rubbish at what I do.” This last stage forms my ‘positive affirmation’ and I draw a lovely colourful flower next to it before saying out loud again and again. I go from sounding like I don’t really believe it to wanting to shout it from a tree-top! Sometimes this takes time and the affirmation has to be repeated a lot, maybe over a few days, but at other times I might just need to go through this 3 step process once on paper and it ‘clicks’. This is because that just by writing my thoughts down and doing this exercise I am becoming ‘self-aware’ and empowering myself.

Awareness is so important.

Just being still and knowing…

When we do ourselves harm we deserve to give ourselves some time and space to heal. Learning compassion towards ourselves also helps us to become more compassionate and non-judgemental towards others, so it really does make the whole world a better place.

So next time you start arguing against your wildest, loveliest dreams, or start doing yourself down in anyway, try this 3 step process and see if it helps.


Sending you much love and light…



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