Are you super-critical of yourself? Do you set high standards for yourself to meet? Do you believe you should punish yourself for your shortcomings rather than treat yourself kindly? If you are like this, how can you change your thinking? A good place to start is to offer yourself self-compassion.
Research shows that accepting our imperfections and giving ourselves a break may lead to better health. People who score high on tests of self-compassion tend to be happier and more optimistic and have less depression and anxiety.
Those who don’t like themselves often feel that they don’t deserve their own kindness and compassion. However, we can extend compassion to ourselves even without necessarily liking ourselves. Self-compassion is the ability to relate to the emotional state of oneself. Self-compassion stands alone and is given freely without limitations. While self-compassion suspends judgment, it encourages us to see ourselves honestly and it is not to be confused with self-indulgence or lowered standards.
Self-compassion involves recognizing that suffering and personal failures are part of the shared human experience. By offering yourself compassion, you acknowledge and forgive, rather than ignore or criticize, your own suffering, difficulties, and personal shortcomings.
Self-compassion is founded on self-kindness. Instead of condemning ourselves and our mistakes, we try to understand and accept our shortcomings and negative emotions. Then, we actively offer comfort and sympathy to ourselves instead of criticism.
Self-compassion has the added element of wanting to alleviate or reduce suffering. By extending this determination to help yourself feel better, you will naturally begin to treat yourself more kindly and gently. Offering compassion to yourself can help you distance yourself from destructive self-criticism. Many find that once they begin to consistently offer themselves self-compassion, they begin to escape the damaging effects of self-criticism. As a result, they begin to be more comfortable with themselves and they begin to like themselves more.
Research studies show that self-compassionate individuals experience greater psychological health, including well-being, happiness, optimism, social connections, and emotional resilience, than those who do not extend compassion to themselves. Those who score high on self-compassion are also less likely to experience self-criticism, depression, anxiety, thought suppression, and perfectionism.
Self-compassion can be developed by anyone. By deliberately establishing a practice of extending good will toward ourselves, especially during times of suffering, we can reverse old habits and develop self-compassion. Research has also shown that self-compassion can be heightened by acting compassionately toward others. Taking the opportunity to support other people can also make you feel better about what you’re going through.
Give yourself a break and offer yourself self-compassion. Break your life-long habit of self-criticism and reap the benefits of increased happiness, reduced stress, and improved psychological health.
Do you have an incessant personal judge that constantly tells you what you should or should not do? We each make choices every day about the words we use. Language is a powerful force and simple word choices can have an enormous impact. Create more freedom and less stress in your life by changing your language to a kinder tone and by changing your ‘shoulds’ to ‘coulds’.
The word ‘should’ often carries with it feelings of guilt, shame, and self-blame. ‘Should’ implies there is an ultimate way of behaving in every given situation. ‘Should’ suggests that you are supposed to be different than you are, that you don’t measure up, you need to improve, and you must be perfect. Often ‘should’ carries with it feelings of guilt, shame, and self-blame. It reminds us of the expectations of others for us and creates external motivation based on those expectations.
The word ‘could’ implies a choice rather than an obligation. Because it is more easy-going and less demanding, ‘could’ can open us up to opportunities rather than confining us to a supposedly righteous way. ‘Could’ can help create an internal motivation that is more powerful and compelling than an external motivation.
Consider replacing your ‘shoulds’ with ‘coulds’. Do you worry that you would not accomplish your goals without the harshness of ‘shoulds’ to motivate you? Consider how a set of demanding and rigid expectations makes you feel. Are your ‘shoulds’ helpful or do they serve to de-motivate you by making you feel guilty and inadequate?
Spend a day trying to catch as many of your ‘shoulds’ as you can. Take a neutral attitude as you notice these self-critical commands that you have been automatically telling yourself. At day’s end, notice when you used ‘should’ the most. Was it in relation to work, relationships, chores, leisure time, or something else?
Next, spend a day replacing your ‘shoulds’ with ‘coulds’. While ‘should’ implies an obligation, ‘could’ is more liberating because it implies a choice. Instead of saying ‘I should do better at work’ change it up to ‘I could do better at work’. And, then carry it a step further by asking yourself, ‘How could I do better at work?’ What new options and possibilities do you discover when you do this? Do you find that you can tap more easily into a genuine internal motivation?
Treat yourself well and change your language to a more gentle and forgiving tone by replacing your ‘shoulds’ with ‘coulds’. Abolish ‘should’ from your vocabulary and increase your possibilities for more happiness and less stress by refusing to impose unrealistic expectations on yourself.
Are you aware of a self-critical voice that has taken up permanent residency in your mind? Do you believe every nagging, mean, outrageous, guilt-producing thing that your self-critical voice says to you? Is it time to change the way you speak to yourself?
The mind is like your house. If its doors and windows are wide open, with nothing to stop or filter out the incoming thoughts, every passing thought is allowed free access to your mind. Any thought can enter your mind, take up residency, stay as long as it likes, and disturb and affect your behavior and actions. For most people, this is the way their minds function. The fact is, though, that our thoughts and belief systems can become our realities. Self-critical thoughts can dampen and destroy dreams, bring down morale, and lead to procrastination and laziness.
The first step is to recognize what is going on. Until we notice, self-criticism can be like background noise that is subtly below our consciousness. This is when its impact is strongest because often it is being accepted without question. Becoming aware of exactly what you are saying to yourself about yourself can help you understand why you react the way you do to people and events in your life.
We all know probably know someone who constantly puts themselves down and criticizes themselves. You may have found yourself thinking, “At least I don’t do that!” You may not do that level of complaining when you talk to other people, but what does your internal dialogue sound like? In your own mind and to yourself, are you constantly complaining and berating yourself?
Creating change always begins with noticing what needs to be changed. Begin to notice what you say to yourself. You probably don’t even realize how often you say negative things to and about yourself or how much that affects your experiences. Make an effort to become more conscious of your internal dialogue and its content.
At random times throughout the day, ask yourself, “What am I saying to myself right now?” Notice what you are saying without censorship or judgment – just notice what you say and notice how it makes you feel. As you witness more and more of these thoughts, try replacing some of your criticism with kindness. If you were talking to a friend instead of yourself, what encouraging things would you say? Treat yourself with the same kindness you would offer to a friend and be a friend to yourself.
Replacing your self-criticism with friendly encouragement and support can help you control your moods, overcome your shortcomings, and create more successes in your life. For more peace of mind and happiness, try being more friendly to yourself!
Do you believe that you need to be hard on yourself in order to succeed? Do you think showing yourself compassion is a weakness and only a feel-good way to coddle yourself? Would you change your mind about this if you learned that self-compassion can increase your sense of well-being and ability to cope with life?
Studies have shown that self-compassion is strongly associated with well-being. Self-compassion goes beyond not being critical or mean to yourself. Self-compassion means treating yourself in a caring, understanding, and loving way by offering yourself warmth and non-judgmental understanding instead of berating yourself with self-criticism. Unlike self-esteem, the good feelings of self-compassion do not depend on feeling better in relation to others. Instead, self-compassion is based on embracing the full range of your human strengths and weaknesses.
Self-criticism is a way of life for many. In our highly competitive society, it is not uncommon for us to look for the flaws and shortcomings in others as well as ourselves. Most of our self-critical thoughts are in the form of an inner dialogue, a running (and often brutal) commentary and evaluation of what we are experiencing. This self-criticism can create a mind-state that is defeated, dissatisfied, and anxious.
The best way to combat self-criticism is to understand it and to have compassion for it. Recognize your self-criticism as your attempt to keep yourself safe and to control your life. While you may feel that you need to use self-criticism to motivate yourself, research has shown that self-compassionate people are just as likely to set and meet high standards for themselves as those who lack self-compassion. Recognize that you can more effectively provide security for yourself by giving up self-judgment and by giving yourself compassion and acceptance for your very human experiences.
Self-compassion increases your ability to adapt and relate to yourself when faced with personal inadequacies or difficult life circumstances. If, when under stress, you are nasty to yourself, you ignite mental and physical stress reactions, and compromise your ability to adapt. By showing yourself compassion, you can reduce your anxiety, improve your confidence, and increase your resilience and happiness. Studies have shown that self-compassionate people are more likely to create specific plans for reaching their goals and to create balanced lives.
To have a fuller, happier, and more satisfying life, stop judging yourself! Be a friend to yourself and treat yourself with the same caring and compassion that you would extend to a friend or even a stranger. True compassion Is extended regardless of worthiness or merit. Extend true compassion to yourself!