Transforming Self-Criticism into Self-Compassion

Do you say things to yourself that you would never say to a good friend? Are you treating yourself more rudely than you have ever treated anyone else? If the answer is yes, then read on.

If someone on the street spoke to you the way you speak to yourself you wouldn’t put up with it. We speak to ourselves so harshly sometimes that we become accustomed to a damaging, inhibiting inner voice. This isn’t an excuse to lay the blame at someone else’s feet or be under the illusion that we are all powerful beings who can do no wrong. This is about mindfully knowing when it is time to push aside the harsh self-criticism that undermines us and showing our selves the kindness that we would offer a good friend or even a stranger. 

Research shows that the more people criticize themselves the slower their progress and the less likely they are to achieve their goals. We actually dis-engage from our goals and put the brakes on progress when we see it coming. Do you have goals in life? I do, and I’d very much love for them to come to fruition!

Dr. Kristen Neff from The University of Texas, Austin suggests a way that works while reducing stress, anxiety, and self doubt allowing us to see our capabilities and find a balance between fear and motivation to find a sweet spot where we are performing well and able to guide ourselves to better our performance.

Neff suggests that there are three core qualities, mindfulness, connectedness, and self-kindness, that help us to see our self-criticism what it is meant for, self-protection. Self-compassion relieves stress and self-doubt to show what we are capable of. Positive feelings make us less self-conscious, less likely to compare ourselves, and less likely to be insecure. This positive energy enhances our motivation and resilience, which in turn enhances our performance!

 So, lets practice;

What is the most supportive message that would encourage you to achieve what you really want? Hint, it isn’t I’m too fat or I’m broke. What would the kindest person you know say? Maybe, I’m healthy and I am loosing 10lbs so I can feel even better or I’m taking an online class on personal finance so I can learn how to invest and save my money.

Keep a journal Have you judged yourself, had a difficult interaction with someone, or felt bad about yourself for any reason? Write it down and then mindfully respond with how you process this event with self-compassion. It will take practice but it will be worth it.

Self-Compassion Mantra – You are better than you think you are, You are slimmer than you think you are, You are smarter than you think you are, Slow the train to negative town with a little positive reinforcement. 

Dr. Neff's site has some useful, downloadable meditations so go check them out. Reiki is a wonderful tool when you need a pick-me-up and need to shut down that inner nagging. Treat yourself!

*my apologies to the artist who made this painting - I haven't been able to track down the name of the artist or where I found it. I absolutely love it though!