4 Self-Love & Compassion Practices for You and Your Clients by Lynda Monk, MSW, RSW, CPCC


At the heart of all transformational work is the need for self-love and compassion. As coaches, we must be committed to expand self-love and compassion within ourselves, in order to also help our clients to do the same.

"Find the love you seek by first finding the love within yourself. Learn to rest in that place as that is your true home." Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Why do Self-Love and Compassion Matter?

We cannot give to others what we do not have within ourselves. Growth, transformation and thriving occur in the presence of nurturing, kindness and care. And if we're hard on ourselves, overly self-critical, engaged with negative self-talk, avoiding our own self-care and/or judging ourselves harshly, we use a lot of energy to navigate this harshness - and block the flow of love and kindness in and around us.

Self-love is in service to being a masterful coach. For in this energy we are kinder, less judgmental, more mindful and forgiving of both ourselves and others. Self-acceptance flourishes in the energy of self-love.

It's part of the human condition to be plagued with a lack of self-love and compassion from time to time. Maybe we tell ourselves we should have tried harder, or we shouldn't have made a certain mistake, or we aren't good enough.

Compassion and self-kindness serve as a healing balm to such self-criticism - we can all strive for greater self-love. And as we open our hearts to a greater loving connection within ourselves, we are better able to extend love and kindness to others.

What does it take to Cultivate a Loving Relationship with Ourselves?

Just like any loving relationship, cultivating a loving relationship with the self takes time, effort, commitment and tools.

Many of us are already aware of mindfulness practice as a way of deepening self-love, compassion and kindness.

Expressive writing is also a powerful practice, supporting us to cultivate and expand these qualities and feelings in our lives and our transformational work with clients. I love to blend these two practices together for what I call "mindful expressive writing".

What is Mindful Expressive Writing?

Mindful expressive writing invites us to get centered, present and aware of our breath in this one moment, and then go to the page and write. From this centered grounded place, you can engage in deep writing about your thoughts, feelings, experiences, inner dialogue and more.

"Deep writing emerges from the space between the inhalation and exhalation, that space in between the doing and the dreaming, our place of power, of mystery, and of authenticity."  Laraine Herring

Here are 4 Self-Love & Compassion Practices for You and Your Clients, using Mindful Expressive Writing

The 4 activities below will help you write and cultivate self-love and compassion using mindful expressive writing:

1. Use "Loving Kindness" Meditation (Metta)

There is a Buddhist mindfulness practice called "Loving kindness" (metta) - where we wish ourselves safety, health, happiness and ease, then extend this same intention out to others, and then extend that wish out to all living things.

This activity involves reading the following loving kindness meditation. You can also listen to the 12 minute audio from Lynda embedded in this article below.

May I be safe.
May I be healthy.
May I be happy.
May I live with ease.  

May you be safe.
May you be healthy.
May you be happy.
May you live with ease.

May we be safe.
May we be healthy.
May we be happy.
May we live with ease.

12 Minute Loving Kindness Meditation with Lynda:

Then, after you're finished, take 15 minutes to write in your journal about how this meditation made you feel. Write about whatever comes to mind as you reflect on your experience. What thoughts, feelings and sensations arose as you did this loving-kindness meditation?

2) Write your own Loving Kindness Meditation

This next mindful expressive writing activity involves writing your own loving kindness meditation. Write out and ask what you want and need for yourself, and then extend these intentions out to others.

3) Write a Love Letter to Yourself

Write a love letter to yourself, filled with kindness, compassion, care and gratitude for who you are, and all the things you do. Write this love letter to yourself, in the same way you would write to someone you really, really love!

4) Use Poetry as Inspiration for Journaling 1

Read the following quote by David Whyte, poet and author of "The Three Marriages: Re-imagining Work, Self and Relationships".

"There are three kinds of marriages. Your marriage with another, with the people you have committed to love and respect through the big and the bad. Your husband (wife, partner), your children, your friends. Your marriage with your work. That thing you do that you commit to love and turn up for no matter how hard it is. Your marriage with yourself, the one you cannot leave."

Journal writing prompts: Describe the type of marriage you have with yourself. What do you want to celebrate about this marriage? What areas of this marriage do you want to grow or nurture?


There are many ways to generate feelings of self-love and compassion. Mindful expressive writing is a practice that helps us reflect on and get to know our own mind, our thoughts, feelings and needs. It helps bring us more fully present into the moment, where are all transformation and growth happens. This type of writing helps us cultivate wholeness, healing and wellness.

Louise DeSalvo, author of "Writing as a Way of Healing" says:

"What if writing were a simple, significant yet necessary way to achieve spiritual, emotional, and psychic wholeness?... What if writing were as important as a basic human function and as significant to maintaining and promoting our psychic and physical wellness as, say, exercise, healthful food, pure water, clean air, rest and repose, and some soul-satisfying practice?"

Yes! What if? What if writing helps us find our true home of self-love, self-acceptance, kindness and compassion?

It does. Word-by-word, story-by-story. Self-expression through personal writing is a form of showing up to love and accept ourselves - on the page, in our lives and in our important work as coaches.

1 You could also use another poem or quote you like about your relationship with yourself, and/or self-love.

If you liked this article on Mindful expressive writing, you may also like:

Lynda Monk Headshot

Contributing Author:

Lynda Monk, MSW, RSW, CPCC is the Director of the International Association for Journal Writing. Lynda regularly writes, speaks, and teaches about the transformational and healing power of writing. She is the co-author of Writing Alone Together: Journalling in a Circle of Women for Creativity, Compassion and Connection (2014), and co-editor of Transformational Journaling for Coaches, Therapists, and Clients: A Complete Guide to the Benefits of Personal Writing (2021). Lynda is also co-editor of The Great Book of Journaling (2022). You can find her FREE gift for coaches here: Gratitude Journaling for Coaches & Clients Workbook.

Learn more about Lynda & see all their articles here >>

Image of Person writing in journal outside by Pop-Paul-Catalin via Shutterstock


  1. Lekea

    Thank you Lynda. I never thought of utilizing poetry to inspire journaling. I found taking 5 minutes to reflect on the poem on the different marriages and journaling poignant. Thank you once more. This is a tool I will definitely utilize in my coaching practice.

    • Emma-Louise

      Hi Lekea, Lynda will be very pleased that you found this article and the poetry idea so helpful 🙂 Enjoy incorporating it into your practice. Warmly, Emma-Louise

  2. Brenda Scott

    A beautiful, deep and heart-filled reflection on self love and compassion. I love the quotes you weave in and the practical exercises too. Will definitely apply them in my own daily practice and share with clients.
    The concept of the 3 marriages was an aha! Commitment to self love and growth is so powerful. The framing of daily writing as a way of healing and nurturing ourselves was really helpful too. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom so generously.


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