One is one’s own refuge. Who else could be the refuge?
For years I have wanted to tape a recording of all the things I wish I could say to each and every one of you. Every compassionate, kind, gentle, patient, accepting, affirming, understanding, appreciative, and supportive thought to make you feel as good and right in yourself as you possibly can. I let this idea steep for years. Luckily, waiting was the right choice since I found something better to share with you.
In an interview on the Sounds True podcast between Tami Simon and Cheri Huber, Cheri raved about her process called Recording and Listening. You simply record yourself saying anything you think will help you. It could be gentle reminders of your resiliency, nurturing words of compassion and support, lists of things you are grateful for, meaningful quotes, or anything you wish were being said to you, or wish had been said to you as a child. Hearing yourself say these things out loud is far more powerful than anyone else saying them to you.
As I always like to experiment with new techniques before I suggest them, I downloaded a free app called Voice Recorder from Tap Media Ltd. It is so incredibly simple and intuitive to use I was recording in no time.
At first, this may seem awkward and you might not know what you want to say. Take a few slow, deep breaths into your heart and just see what comes up. As you continue to record things you want to hear you will get more comfortable with the process, even if you think you dislike the sound of your own voice. Be patient, it’s a new skill set.
Of course, half of this practice is actually listening to what you recorded. You can listen any time you want an emotional boost, a reminder of your resiliency, a connection to the part of you that helps you feel safe, or you crave some unconditional self-acceptance. It can also be very helpful to listen before you go to sleep as your defenses melt into unconsciousness and you can open up to really hearing every loving, supportive, emotionally generous thought you have for yourself.
To jump start this practice just go to one of the following chapters on this site and record whatever parts of it you find most helpful:
Affirmations for self-empowerment and emotional freedom
Quotes to life by
Litany of love
Manifesto for emotional self care
Manifesto II: How to write yours
It’s OK Sweetheart
Linda Graham, MFT, has a beautiful protocol that allows you to create a resource called The Compassionate Friend in your mind. This friend imagery can be reinforced through an audible recording that feels supportive, safe and loving.
Here are her slightly modified instructions:
Picture someone older, wiser, truly loving, kind, and nurturing. This may be a real or imaginary person. They care about you deeply.
Imagine what they look like and how it feels to be with them.
Imagine how you greet them. Do you hug, shake hands, bow, or something else?
Imagine how you will talk with them: sitting, walking in a park, across from them, next to them, etc.
Imagine talking with your compassionate friend about something that’s worrying, bothering, or distressing you. What you will say and how they will respond with gentleness, interest, respect, curiosity and compassion. They may hold or hug you, or not.
You notice what it feels like to be listened to, understood, and truly heard
Imagine what you would like to hear from your compassionate friend have him or her say those words.
Imagine taking in those words and feeling soothed, comforted, calmed, and safe.
Notice what this whole experience had felt like to you.
When it’s time to say goodbye to your compassionate friend notice how you do that.
You have created a resource in your own mind that you can call up anytime you want extra support.
Kristin Neff’s Self Compassion Break:
Put your hand on your heart. This activates the release of oxytocin and makes you feel safer, and say the following to yourself:
This is what’s happening. A moment of suffering, anger, sadness, physical pain, loneliness, anxiety, or grief.
Everybody experiences these feelings.
May I be kind to myself in this moment. May I accept myself in this moment exactly as it is. May I give myself all the compassion I need. (Keep repeating these phrases until you feel your emotional equilibrium returning, and your contraction begins to open up and feel spacious.)
Another practice from Linda Graham you can record and listen to until it becomes automatic:
May I be kind to myself in this moment.
May I be kind to myself in any moment.
May I be kind to myself in every moment.
Last but not least, when you’re feeling upset ask yourself: “What would I wish someone would say to me right now?” Record those caring, kind, patient, gentle, supportive, understanding words and listen to them as often as you can. They are incredibly grounding, and give you a new perspective when you are drowning in negative or scary thoughts.
Copyright Nicole S. Urdang