Why do we say such mean things to ourselves?
“You can be so stupid.”
“Why would he be attracted to YOU?”
“You’re just going to screw this up.”
Most of us treat ourselves far more harshly than we would anyone else. Our inner critic says things that we would never say to another person. This often contributes to anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.
Practicing self-compassion can help you change this internal relationship and make you feel like you have a supportive friend with you instead of just a critic.
This might sound weird, uncomfortable, or impossible at first. Please keep reading to learn some simple but profound ways you can begin to practice self-compassion. Over time, you will be able to connect in a loving and supportive manner with yourself.
1. Become More Mindful of Your Feelings
Self-compassion is a pathway to emotional healing. To begin, practice being more aware of your own emotions, especially as they relate to yourself.
Try to be more aware of when you have an uncomfortable emotion. Perhaps you are feeling confused, desperate, or inadequate. These are moments that your inner critic may strike. Now, try and offer yourself kindness and understand instead. Like you would do for a good friend.
You may say something to yourself life, “I know you’re disappointed. I also know you did your best and I am so proud of you for trying.”
2. Monitor Yourself
Until you become used to being compassionate toward yourself, you’ll want to be very aware of the language you are using. Just like all habit changes, you are likely to fall back into old patterns until the new one becomes routine. Criticizing yourself will be the automatic choice and don’t expect yourself to be perfect at self-compassion. When you notice the critical voice has taken over, be aware and make a compassionate correction. This can even include being self-compassionate about self-criticism! “Wow, it’s easy to fall back into old habits. It hurts when I talk to myself like that, but everyone makes mistakes.”
3. Get Physical
There’s a phrase that says, “get out of your head and drop into your body.” This is a perfect way to engage with self-compassion.
Begin to use kind physical gestures with yourself. This could be gently stroking your cheeks and temples when you’re stressed, holding your hand over your heart when you’re sad, or holding your own hand when you feel lonely. Any physical gesture, so long as it’s loving, will help you show yourself true love and kindness in those moments.
For some people, showing themselves compassion may prove to be incredibly difficult. It can be helpful to work with a therapist to help you understand your blocks and learn to practice self-compassion in a healthy and supportive way. If you are interested in exploring treatment options, please contact me to schedule a free consultation session.