Are You Too Hard on Yourself? The Essential Guide to Increasing Self-Compassion

Six easy methods to start being kinder to yourself right now.

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Many of us Type A overachievers have very loud inner critics. We may even think we need our inner critic to help push us to achieve for fear that without it, we’d become lazy and complacent.

In some extreme cases, we might not be able to differentiate our inner voice from the voice of our critic.

Ask yourself honestly, is your inner critic running the show most of the time?

So what can we do to tame our inner critic and learn to be on our own side? I have found six easy methods of self-compassion, so you can be kinder to yourself starting right now.  

1. Notice your inner critic.

Self-awareness is the first and most effective way to quiet the inner critic. Anytime you find yourself being critical or saying you’re not good enough, notice the unhelpful thoughts. Acknowledgement often means taking the time to listen to what these thoughts have to say instead of fighting them, while understanding that they are not factual. After listening to what they say, acknowledge the inner critic by saying, “I hear you and I’ve got this.”

2. Acknowledge the hurt.

Slow down and take note of how you feel when you’re putting yourself down. You might want to rush through this step, but it’s important to acknowledge the pain our inner critic causes. Say to yourself “ouch, this hurts.” Or imagine someone was saying these words to a loved one: How would this make that person feel? This allows you to take a step back and see how hurtful and unhelpful the inner critic can be.

3. Recognize that we’re all in this together and everyone has an inner critic.

Everyone has a inner critic that causes emotional discomfort, anxiety and stress when it criticizes us. It’s natural and normal to feel difficult emotions when our inner critic is pointing out our perceived flaws. It can be helpful and comforting to remember you’re not alone in this, and we all feel this way from time to time.

4. Bring kindness to the hurt by taking a self-compassion break.

Take action to give yourself the compassion you need and deserve. Or, if that feels too hard, simply set the intention to do so. Listen to this short self-compassion meditation or take a few minutes to journal, text a friend for support or grab a comforting cup of warm tea or coffee. The important part is that you do what comforts, encourages and lifts up you as an individual.

5. Prioritize your mental wellbeing by going upstream.

Start to recognize how important taking care of your mental wellbeing is. It’s just as important, if not more important, than your physical health. But yet, we can feel guilty or selfish when taking time to meditate or even nap when we’re exhausted. If you feel guilty practicing self-care, start to question where these beliefs came from and whether or not they are serving you. Is your self-care only reserved for times when you’re in the red zone or when you “deserve” it? Start to take microsteps like regular self-compassion breaks to support your mental wellbeing.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

If you feel like your inner critic is running the show, causing distress or you are on the edge of burnout, it could be helpful to talk with a counselor. Asking for help takes an incredible amount of courage as does letting someone come in and support you. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed and under water, don’t delay and get professional help. And remember, having needs doesn’t make you “needy,” it just makes you human.

And remember the more you give to yourself, the more you have to give to others.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


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