The voice inside our head that’s filled with doubts, criticism and negative thoughts can often plague our view on certain scenarios and experiences. Maybe we don’t go for a promotion because our inner critic doesn’t think we’re up to the challenge, or perhaps we ruminate on negative social experiences, constantly replaying what happened.
Self-criticism affects our recovery from adverse circumstances, how we cope with situations, and whether we are resilient and will persevere. Yet, it’s something that you can influence with inner warmth and self-compassion, helping to hush your negative self-talk and reach the success you deserve.
How can you quieten critical thoughts? The science behind self-compassion
Self-compassion is an effective weapon against your inner critic. You’ll have greater resilience and will persevere with situations that felt at one time, unbearable. It’s even been shown to help us cope with negative social situations where we feel anxiety or have repetitive thoughts.
A study on self-criticism and self-warmth found that our ability to positively respond to a setback and support ourselves is ‘highly associated with trait self-reassurance’ and ‘with not feeling inferior to others’. In other words, how we feel in relation to our peers, friends or co-workers has a direct impact on how well we can bounce back from a negative experience.
What is the difference between compassion and self-compassion?
Now that we understand the power behind self-compassion, you might be wondering what makes self-compassion different from other forms of compassion. Let’s take a look at some examples.
Being compassionate to others
This is something we’re taught a lot growing up: treating others how we want to be treated. It’s sometimes easier to be compassionate to others than it is to ourselves. Trust issues can make this difficult if we don’t feel that someone is deserving of it.
Accepting compassion from others can prove more difficult if we have lower self-esteem. We might build our walls up against compassion shown to us, thinking ourselves unworthy of it. Or, we may become suspicious, questioning the ulterior motives of others for displaying compassion and becoming judgemental.
Self-compassion is the compassion we show to ourselves. However, we may have fears of being overwhelmed by our emotions or face the barrier of our inner critic.
Self-compassion in practice
So, how can you practice self-compassion in your day to day life? Here are a few things to try in your daily routine.
Positive affirmations can remind us that we are valued, appreciated and worthy, even when our inner critic tries to tell us otherwise. It’s beneficial to remind yourself that you’re not alone in feeling doubt – we all do.
Putting pen to paper and expressing our feelings about a situation or event that’s troubling us lifts a weight off our mind. Rather than replaying what happened over and over, being critical about our actions or words, it’s helpful to release these and revisit them when we feel calmer and more distant from the emotions.
Being kind to ourselves in the face of self-criticism can go a long way towards quietening negative thoughts. In the fight against perfectionism, going easy on ourselves and accepting our flaws or shortcomings without spiralling into self-criticism is an important first step.
Engaging with mindfulness can allow you to embrace your self-criticism and inner critic openly, and be aware of how these emotions affect your judgments or actions. See audio meditations Zen Buddy App
Would like to learn how to treat yourself with more self-compassion? In this course, you’ll learn methods of managing your harsh inner critic and improve your mental wellbeing. You’ll be introduced to self-reassurance techniques that will help you feel safe and protected. Over time, you’ll be able to accept negative feelings and thoughts and extend more warmth towards yourself.