Compassionate Chair Work


What you'll need for this exercise:

3 chairs + YOU + list of negative self talk

  1. Have your list of negative self talk ready in hand.

  2. Going into this don't feel silly and be ready to act out different voices as if there's three of you as you sit on the different chairs. Give yourself time to go through each perspective. Have the time to reflect on each experience and try to understand the way you think, how you can benefit from each perspective.

  3. Arrange the chairs around you. You can use dining room chairs, fold out chairs, desk chair, living room sofa and chairs, or ottomans. Make use of what you already have, if needed improvise.

  4. In the first chair, sit and embody your inner critic. Read out loud one of the issues. For example, "I hate that I am so useless and can't seem to get anything done right."Be aware of the tone you use, the emotions you evoke with your words, and notice your body language and demeanor.

  5. Move to the second chair. This chair represents the sensation or impact for judging yourself. Tell yourself out loud in words how it feels to subject yourself to criticism. For example, "I feel small and hurt" or "I do not feel encouraged." Pay attention to your tone of voice, emotions, and posture.

  6. Next, move to the third chair that represents your friend or counselor. Speak to yourself as if you are speaking to your friend with compassion and sincerity. Confront that critical voice and critique it. Talk out loud when addressing both perspectives. What would you tell someone in your situation? What advice would you give? How do you relate to those perspectives from a detached standpoint? Again, pay attention to your tone and behavior.

Now that you've gone through each perspective, what was your experience with self-compassion? You are more capable than you know of being compassionate towards yourself. Bring out that supportive voice. The next time you notice yourself being negative and self-critical, find that compassionate voice.

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