Try a Different Pronoun

spread compassion

Last week’s word was Compassion and this week’s word is Self-Compassion. In this week’s self-compassion exercise, we learned to begin our day by purposefully and lovingly connecting with YOURSELF.
(Download our “Self-Compassion Conversation Starters” if you didn’t already).

There is a subtle, yet important, assumption woven into the idea of self-compassion; that is, the assumption that we WANT to show ourselves compassion. Assuming that we believe ourselves to be worthy of self-compassion. And that we are willing to let go of self-criticism and self-judgment.

There is another practice essential to this conversation of self-compassion.
The practice of experiencing yourself as a “You” and not only as an “I.”

Think about that. When we refer to ourselves, we pretty typically use the pronoun, “I.” I did this, or I said that. When others refer to us, they use the pronoun, “You.” You did this, or You said that. Each of us, in fact, is both “I” and “You.” Big deal, you may say. The big deal comes when we begin to see ourselves as “You,” rather than “I.” And when we treat ourselves as a person. As a YOU.

Here’s what might shift in our relationship with ourselves, when we treat ourselves as a YOU, a human person:

  • I extend to YOU the same kindness I extend to other people.
  • I extend to YOU the same ‘benefit of the doubt’ I extend to other people.
  • I recognize that YOU need my compassion, just like other people do.
  • I extend to YOU my understanding, just like I would extend to anyone else.
  • I extend to YOU the same forgiveness I extend to other people.

Re-read the above five statements. This time, say each one aloud to yourself, tweaking the words as necessary to feel more authentic for you. Even insert your own first name, such as: “De, I extend to you the same kindness that I show to others.”

As you say each one aloud, some of the statements may feel very true and right. Others may feel less authentic or like a stretch for you to believe. This usually points to an underlying belief or assumption we are holding about ourselves that contradicts with the statement. For example, if saying, “I extend to you the same understanding I extend to others,” has you thinking, “Yeah, right. No way can I do that!” you may be holding a contradictory belief, such as:

  • It’s not ok for me to make a mistake.
  • It’s not ok for me to need help, let alone ask for help.
  • I should be able to get it all done.
  • I am a terrible mother.

Surfacing the self-beliefs that hold us back or keep us disconnected from our Self (with a capital S) is a powerful exercise. I am creating an online course precisely on this topic, which will be available late this Spring. In the meantime…

As you practice with our “Self-Compassion Conversation Starters”, here are two words to add into your self-dialogue:


“De, we can handle this.”
“De, let’s look at the options here.”
“Well, De, that didn’t go so well. What do we do now?”

Let’s and We, simply put, are partnership words. Language that joins together and connects – me with me!

As always, please share your comments below or on our Facebook page. We are all learning from each other and I so appreciate hearing about your experiences with the concepts and exercises I share.

Let’s close with a prayer.

Heavenly Father, I pray that you will guide us as we journey along the pathway of self-compassion. Help us to grow in loving relationship with ourselves. Thank you, Lord, for all the ways you bless us, even the ways that don’t happen to feel like blessings in the moment. These “blessings in disguise” are perfect opportunities for us to partner with You in practicing self-compassion, self-acceptance, and self-gentleness. Thank you that you made us whole and in Your image. Please help us to see ourselves more clearly. To see ourselves as You see us, Lord; as we ARE.  Amen!

With love,

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