By: Rebecca Aaron
We often hear “you are your own worst critic,” and it has become a cultural expectation that we should have our lives “put together” and be able to get everything done efficiently before we go to sleep each night. However, those expectations and harsh self criticisms leave us spiraling into a dark cycle of never feeling like we are enough.
What if your best friend, your mom, or your spouse were to hear your critical inner monologue? Would they agree? Probably not. Instead, they would probably encourage you and build you up. They would remind you of all of your many strengths and successes, and help you zoom out for a more fair perspective of yourself. That’s compassion, and we can even practice giving ourselves compassion. Practicing self-compassion will break the self-critical cycle, and instead help you to create a more gentle and empowering inner monologue.
Instead of: “Ugh! I failed again, of course I’d fail again!” Try: “wow, now I have a better idea what to try next time, and failing is apart of the normal learning process.”
Instead of: “I can’t believe I forgot coffee with my friend, I’m such an airhead.” Try: “I forgot our coffee meeting this one time, but I’ll be sure to set a reminder so I don’t forget in the future. I have forgiven others for forgetting in the past, so I can forgive myself for this too and I’ll be sure apologize to my friend as well.”
Self-compassion is allowing yourself the space to be human, to keep trying, and eventually to extend that same compassion to others.
Here are a few easy tips to guide self-compassion:
- Make comments time-limited, meaning a circumstance will usually not last forever, so by adding ‘time stamps’ on comments, it reminds yourself that this situation is not permanent (ex. “for now”).
- Zoom out, acknowledge that events or feelings do not exist in a vacuum and typically they make a lot of sense when the entire context is acknowledged.
- Remind yourself of times when the self-critical comment was proven false in your life to help you remember that you are not “all bad,” you are human.