You are your own worst critic.
You are too hard on yourself, it isn’t helping you, and the constant negative self-talk weighs heavily on your self-esteem.
If these words resonate with you, you may be practicing a lack of self-compassion.
Self-compassion is the act of extending kind and loving thoughts towards yourself (especially in regards to things that you feel the most insecure about).
An abundance of self-compassion leads to happiness, social connectedness, emotional resilience, and an overall satisfactory perspective on your life.
A lack of self-compassion leads to low self-esteem, self-critical thinking, negatively comparing yourself to others, depression, anxiety disorders, suppressed thoughts and emotions, and perfectionism.
My guess? You’d rather be living with the first list of symptoms.
So how you can you learn to stop being so damn hard on yourself, and love yourself more fully?
By leaning into and cultivating more self-compassionate habits, you can quiet the critic inside, and have more resilience in the face of challenge for the rest of your life.
How To Cultivate Self-Compassion
1. Start With The Basics
It’s very difficult to extend any compassion towards yourself if you aren’t letting yourself meet your most basic needs.
Get full nights of rest, eat clean and nutritious food, and get some form of exercise at least two or three times per week.
Living a sedentary lifestyle, with little rest, and a sugary, white flour based diet is the fastest way to burn out on a cellular level. Just because you have opposable thumbs and the ability to think rationally doesn’t mean that you aren’t an animal that has certain needs to maintain a baseline level of health.
2. Take Time Off Before You Need It
People who lack self-compassion are often workaholics, stressed out, or their calendars are overbooked.
The stress that we try to ignore gets stored in our bodies.
Whether our ignored emotions come out unexpectedly in the form of an angry burst of words, or in the form of a panic attack, our emotions are there to be listened to.
I once heard someone say that when you ignore an emotion it goes down to the basement to lift weights. That is to say, the shunned emotion needs to become stronger in order for you to listen to it. And after it lifts those weights it comes back upstairs and makes it’s presence known in an even more obvious way.
Ignored stress turns into anxiety, and then panic attacks.
Ignored frustration turns into anger, and then rage.
Ignored sadness turns into numbness, and then depression.
So listen to what your body and your emotions are trying to tell you. As scary as it can sometimes seem, your feelings have to be felt.
Have you been feeling stressed lately? Get massages, go to the movies, or just take some time to sit in a park by yourself and take in the scenery.
Do you remember your last real vacation? Maybe it’s time you booked one.
People who lack self-compassion are often quite resistant to letting themselves feel what they would consider “negative” emotions (such as sadness, shame, grief, etc.). If you feel the need to clamp down on your emotions in an attempt to not feel them then you will only be doing yourself further harm by letting them build up to be an even stronger emotional release further down the road.
A good way to ‘seek and destroy’ your unresolved negative emotions is to intentionally set aside time in your schedule and encourage your emotions out of you. Not sure how to do this? Listen to old songs that make you tear up, watch a sad movie, or watch YouTube videos that make you cry. It might feel silly going into it, but you’ll feel so much better for having gone through the experience.
3. Seek Out The Exception
When your inner critic tells you that you “always” do something (be it fail, disappoint, screw up, etc.) ask yourself for the exception.
Inner critic: “You always fail when you try to start a business/relationship/weight loss program… what makes you think this time is going to be any different?”
Your logical mind: “Well, that may have been true several times in my past. But when hasn’t that been true? There was that one time that I tried and I succeeded to…”
Nobody “always” or “never” does anything. So challenge your critical self-thought by driving a wedge of doubt into your negative belief systems.
4. Act “As If”
When we behave in a certain way, our psychology follows our actions. It makes us want to feel consistent with our actions.
So even if you don’t feel like you deserve down time, by making yourself take down time (in the form of a massage, movie, or meditation session for example) your subconscious mind starts to believe that you must deserve to take it.
Even if your inner self critic resist the change and calls you lazy or unproductive for relaxing, your mind will slowly start to follow suit and think “Well, I must deserve this down time… or why else would I be taking it?”
5. Be Mindful Of How You Criticize Others
How you treat others (externally or in your mind) is how you treat yourself.
If you frequently find yourself judging others harshly, realize that that is also how you talk to yourself when you are feeling down.
If you see someone doing something that you feel quick to judge, pause, and see how you can re-frame your thoughts about them with more loving kindness.
Maybe that person seemed like they were rude to their barrista because they haven’t slept more than five hours this entire week trying to cram for a really important exam.
Maybe they are wearing mismatched clothes because they just got off a plane and all of their luggage was re-routed to another country.
Maybe that person is speaking a bit too loudly for your taste because they are deaf in one ear and it’s difficult for them to calibrate their volume in public.
The fact is, you don’t always know what other people are going through. And if you are quick to judge when it comes to others, then more likely than not, you are also quick to do the same to yourself.
So question your thoughts that you have about others, and that habit of pausing and inserting curiosity will lend itself to how kind you are to yourself in your own thoughts.
You Are Completely Deserving Of Love And Kindness
Feminine energy is nurturing and loving. Masculine energy strives for perfection. You could view a lack of self-compassion as your masculine light switch getting stuck in the ‘on’ position.
By recognizing that your light switch is actually a dial, you can dim the perfectionistic and critical self-talk to let in more room for compassionate thoughts.
Your mantra for the next little while could be “I’m only human”. Followed by any combination or variation of “how could I have known?”, “I need down time just like everyone else”, or “I did the best that I could do.”
If you feel like you’re really stuck in your critical self-talk, feel free to reach out and chat with me about it.
Dedicated to your success,