Do you ever find yourself listening to your inner critic gremlin beating down your self-worth and self-esteem?
The other day as I was putting milk in the pantry instead of the refrigerator, I caught myself saying “what a goon-head!”
Maybe these sound familiar to you:
- “I can’t believe I just did that! I am so stupid.”
- “OMG, I am such an idiot!”
- “I am such a loser”
If we really stopped and listened to our internal chatter, I think we would be surprised at how mean-spirited and self-sabotaging our inner critic truly is.
Many think that the antidote to low self-worth is to build up your self-esteem. But author and researcher Dr. Kristin Neff challenges this assertion. She claims that self-esteem, while important, tends to manage your self-image through judgment and comparison of others. In other words, your success and failure are defined by whether or not you are better than someone else. You are comparing yourself to someone else
In her book, “Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind” she writes:
Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, whoever said you were supposed to be perfect?
So how can you best combat your inner critic? – With self-compassion, which is different from self-pity, self-indulgence, and self-esteem.
Through her research, Neff finds that when you are kind, compassionate, understanding, and forgiving toward yourself during moments of failure, inadequacy, or poor decision-making, you will experience greater happiness, self-worth, and self-esteem in your life.
Again, she writes:
The bottom line is that according to the science, self-compassion appears to offer the same advantages as high self-esteem, with no discernible downsides. The first thing to know is that self-compassion and self-esteem do tend to go together. If you’re self-compassionate, you’ll tend to have higher self-esteem than if you’re endlessly self-critical. And like high self-esteem—self-compassion is associated with significantly less anxiety and depression, as well as more happiness, optimism, and positive emotions. However, self-compassion offers clear advantages over self-esteem when things go wrong, or when our egos are threatened.
If you are looking to tame your inner critic and radically transform your mental and emotional reality and well-being, dive into the practice of self-compassion.
Here are some tools to build your self-compassion habit:
1. Practice a loving-kindness meditation.
2. Journal self-kindness around a situation.
3. Talk to yourself as you would a friend. What would you be saying?
4. Recognize how your experience is connected to the human experience – no one is perfect.
5. Admit your mistakes and forgive yourself.
6. Asking the question, “what can I do to make myself happier right now?”
7. Treat yourself with respect. How do respect and kindness translate into words you choose to use and the tone of your voice?
Kristin Neff has compiled a number of wonderful resources on her website SelfCompassion.org.
Spread some love to yourself. Accept your weaknesses and at the same time celebrate your strengths. Rather than be in a constant mode of continual comparison and self-criticism, be open to the imperfections of your humanity and with self-compassion you will have the capacity to change.
I believe passionately in Kristin Neff’s work. The links below are affiliate links where I may earn money.
Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristin Neff