Helpful Nighttime Inner Dialogue
Let’s first set the scene:
You are laying awake at 3 AM with your mind racing. You start to ruminate about a woman at work who is overly critical and does not seem to like you. Your thoughts are darting around your mind of everything you two have said to one another, everything that hasn’t been said but should be said, how you are right and she is wrong, how you are wrong and it is all your fault, how no one likes you, how you are a failure at everything you do, and on and on.
To stop the rumination, as you are lying there upset, bring to mind a loving person who you feel safe with. Picture yourself in conversation with this kind gentle person. You begin telling her about the woman at work. Share your struggle. We are going to call the person listening to you, Inner Friend. Here is what this dialogue could look like:
Me: This person I work with doesn’t like me.
Inner Friend (IF): Is it true that she doesn’t like you?
Me: It feels like that. She challenges everything I propose at work. She ignores me in the hallway and shoots mean looks at me in meetings.
IF: Can you know for sure that she doesn’t like you?
Me: No, but it really feels that way based on her behavior. I guess I can't know for sure, I am assuming she doesn't like me. I don't know...I may be making it up. The dirty look I thought I saw, may just be my insecurities coming out.
IF: If it is true that she doesn’t like you, is there something you could do so that you can co-exist at work?
Me: If she doesn’t like me then that is her decision and I am not going to invest my energy in trying to win her over. We can get our work done without being friends.
IF: Is it possible you are over-sensitive to her behaviors and creating something that in fact may not be there?
Me: I could try to reach out in kindness to her and see how that goes, but I feel like I have tried many times already. Maybe it is me. Maybe I’m just really scared because I am new to this job and I feel like I have to prove myself to everyone. Maybe I’m just feeling afraid and judged.
IF: What could you do tomorrow to help you be less afraid of this conflict and show her some compassion?
Me: Maybe I need to imagine her as a loving person instead of an angry person. Maybe I need to believe in myself a little more and I will feel more secure. Maybe she is hurting inside and my kindness is what she needs right now. I will give out more kindness and compassion tomorrow at work. I will ask them what they are feeling instead of assuming I know. My insecurity is part of the human experience, and I will do better tomorrow.
IF: You’ve got this. I’m behind you all the way. Compassion for others is always the right answer. I’m here if you need to talk tomorrow night at 3 AM. Now go back to sleep, tomorrow is a new day.