Be Kind... Even To Yourself
Now as I have been going through life, I have realized that I, myself am really harsh on myself. Even just the little mistakes can be the biggest inner problems making me become self-critical and mad with myself. I never released it until I became mindful of my thoughts, but also brought awareness of the effect that this self-criticism and lack of self-compassion had.
Sometimes it’s good to think about how we talk to ourselves.. can be quite critical right? I always like to think, would you ever say that to a friend? Usually no right? We are so hard on ourselves and sometimes we don’t even realize it.
I love my podcasting and came across one of my usual listens ‘Food We need to Talk.’ Last week they had a great episode on how to be kind to yourself and I knew exactly that I wanted to share some finical points made in the podcast that was very meaningful to our inner critic and how we treat ourselves as I know I’m not the only one.
The Inner Critic:
Beating ourselves up leads to this fear of failure. And the fear of failure can oftentimes lead to more anxiety. And that's going to make it even harder to try again the next time. Can you remember the first time you started riding or even went to the gym?
Now, if you came home after that and you beat yourself up saying, I look so dumb, I don't belong there, and so on. How likely is it that you're going to want to go ride a bike or go to the gym again?
if you're constantly putting yourself down, it doesn't really allow a lot of room for maybe reflection and growth.
It also makes it harder to learn from our mistakes. Right. If we're so full of shame and regret and, you know, feeling bad about ourselves, we don't have the resources to say, oh, that's interesting. I wonder what I can learn from this situation and do better next time. So self-compassion is actually a more effective motivator than self-criticism.
But people don't realize this and they, you know, they somehow think that self-criticism works and they're almost afraid to let it go because it's the way they've motivated themselves their whole lives. It hurts. It makes us anxious. It makes us full of shame. It makes us upset. We know that negative emotions in general, the more negative emotions we have, the less we're able to look around us and look for opportunities like we become less creative thinkers we don't think as well. We start becoming overwhelmed. Right. It decreases our ability to make good decisions for us.
you could say, Hmm, next time I'm upset, I might try calling a friend or going for a walk or my vice is ice cream. Maybe I'll put a small scoop in a bowl and eat it outside of the kitchen. So if you're busy yelling at yourself, there's just no brain space to have these kinds of more positive thoughts.
We can even go a step further and say that self-compassion could also help us not engage in emotional eating behaviors in the first place. What self-compassion does is. Allows us to regulate our emotions directly. In other words, if we're really upset. Instead of using food as a way to deal with those feelings of sadness, we can give ourselves compassion because we're so upset. We can, you know, give ourselves kindness, and remind ourselves that we aren't alone. This is part of being human.
We can be mindful of it, like, you know, yes, I'm upset, but we are like lost in the feelings of distress. We can have some space around them. And so we can regulate our emotions directly through self-compassion. We don't need to rely on food to regulate our emotions.
self-compassion is not just useful after you've done something that you may be preferred not to do, it can actually help us act in a way that may be more aligned with how we want to be. It can be more proactive than reactive.
That self-compassion helps us with is feelings of shame. I think as many of our listeners will relate, shame is associated with all sorts of negative mental and physical health outcomes.
Shame, which is just the "I am bad" that it actually doesn't help anyone. It debilitates your ability to learn. It really undermines your motivation. It can just, like, wipe you out. So there's no sense of self left as almost nothing left to try again.
If you're challenging yourself in a new way, whether you want to start exercising, meditating, or maybe a new food habit, being compassionate with yourself when you mess up will actually help you figure out why you messed up. It will help you get better faster.
everyone is deserving of self-compassion and it'll help you learn from your failures and just be a better coach to yourself overall.
it turns out that contrary to what the inner critic may be telling you, self-compassion actually makes you engage in healthier behaviors. Eating, better exercising.
self-compassion is going to help you respond better to your failures and make you more likely to try again in the future, which makes you more resilient. But it turns out self-compassion also just makes you healthier.
people who are more self-compassionate, they go to the doctor more often, they exercise more, they eat better foods. They tend to do what's practiced, more intuitive eating. In other words, checking in to notice when they're full, as opposed to continuing past the point of fullness, which is often done for emotional reasons.
Self-esteem, which we usually think of as a good thing. But it turns out that there are different kinds of self-esteem. There are healthy self-esteem and unhealthy self-esteem. So healthy self-esteem is unconditional. Right. So you might say that self-compassion is a source of unconditional worth. You know, whether I make mistakes or not, whether I'm a mess or not.
Unhealthy self-esteem is contingent on something. So some achievement or some goal.
for instance, most people have to feel special and above average to have high self-esteem, which means everyone can't be above average at the same time. So you're kind of always trying to subtly put people down and subtly trying to see yourself in the best possible light.
I love the unconditional part.
I know which type of self-esteem I'd rather cultivate. And that's the one that's not based on external circumstances. Because when you go through life, there are a lot of times when you really don't have much control over those external circumstances.
self-compassion is a really radical act as an act of saying, I don't care whether you like me or you know, what I care about is what's authentic and true for me. That's what's important, how I feel about myself.
The more you practice, the more you do it.
In some ways, you might say being self-compassionate isn't as natural because we're usually compassionate to others. So that's the bit that we have to practice in our head around. Learn to make a new habit. The big barrier is just giving yourself permission to treat yourself this way and really trusting that it's not going to harm you. It's actually going to help you.
And something to help us catch that inner critic is going to be mindfulness, being mindful, and practicing meditation. It just helps you get a little space to maybe just slow down to have that moment where we can think before we react. To turn down the volume on our inner critics.
Now I hope you all took something away today to lead into this coming week and be kind to yourself and more open to your inner critic. Again, the more we practice, the better we get and yes, we are not perfect. It takes time, but awareness is that first initial step that will enable you to make that change and be more whole with yourself.
Thank you all for coming along today for the conversation!