We all have insecurities that occasionally make us feel like we’re not good enough. But sometimes, we allow them to control our lives, often without realizing how deeply they affect us. The following exercise will allow you to see your insecurities in a new light. The objective is to write a compassionate letter to yourself that lovingly corrects those feelings of inadequacy. By the end, you’ll be able to take what you’ve learned into daily life and use it to combat that inner critic whenever it tries to attack you by pressing into your insecurities. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it.
1. Spot an imperfection and write about it.
- Choose some aspect of yourself that makes you feel insecure or inadequate. It could be your physical appearance, a quirky habit, a tendency to procrastinate, etc. Whatever stands out to you is a worthy candidate.
- Take out a notebook and a pen and describe it in detail. In what situations is this insecurity most likely to arise?
2. What emotions do you feel?
- As you write and reread what you’ve written, take note of whatever emotions arise within you.
- Don’t try to exaggerate your emotions by making them worse or better. Just note what it feels like to bring your inadequacy to mind.
- Most importantly, write down how you speak to yourself when turning this inadequacy over in your thoughts. If it’s something you struggle with often, you’re likely treating yourself harshly and hurtfully. Here are some examples of what to look for:
- “You seriously went for another bag of Doritos? God, you’re such a fatty!”
- “Wow, it’s just like you to put things off until the last minute. When are you going to take your life seriously?”
- “That nose, bro! What the hell is wrong with that nose? You’ve got no chance of finding a date with that thing attached to your face.”
3. Create an imaginary friend.
- Think of an imaginary friend who loves you unconditionally, regardless of what you do or don’t do.
- Here are some adjectives that should describe your friend:
- Keep in mind that your friend understands any and all of the contributing factors and circumstances that made you the person you are today—circumstances over which you may have had little to no control.
4. Write a letter to yourself from the perspective of your friend.
- The letter should focus on the inadequacy you wrote about earlier.
- Your letter should take into account how your friend would react to you beating yourself up over your flaw. What would they say?
- Consider how your friend feels when you experience suffering of any kind. What would your friend do or say to make you feel better in these moments?
- As you write, try to infuse your words with as much kindness and compassion as possible.
5. Return to the letter.
- Once you’re finished, put the letter down for a while.
- When you come back and read it again, allow yourself to feel the full meaning of the words your “friend” wrote to you.
- With your inadequacy in mind, allow your friend’s compassion to soothe and comfort you. Though these words come from you, each one is true, and each should be taken to heart.
- If you find yourself tempted to treat your friend’s words as lies or exaggerations, remember that this is your inner self-critic attacking you out of habit. Lovingly acknowledge the critic, but also put it to the side and take each word at face value.
- The next time this inadequacy comes to mind and the instinct to put yourself down flares up, recall the letter. Remember that you have the power to show yourself kindness and compassion in each moment.