Compassion for yourself is no different from having compassion for others. When someone is suffering, we have empathy for them, to not only understand their suffering but feel moved by it to want to help them.
Self-compassion works in the same way. Whilst some of us have an innate ability to be self-compassionate, others have to learn it. The good news is that it is something that can be taught. For many of us, we turn to judgement or criticising our forthcomings. Learning self-compassion is knowing that when something happens to us, we accept it, and are able to speak and act kindly towards ourselves.
However, our inner critic can often get in the way. We all have an inner critic, some more than others. This can show up as fear or anxiety or for others it’s a critical voice from within. When we recognise our inner critic, we have a stronger understanding when it shows up next and how to tackle it.
Today, we would like you to pay attention to your inner critic and work on where the thought can lead.
In your journal, think of something you’re overly critical of about yourself. With that critical voice, do the following:
- Give the voice a name
- What does it look like? This might be energy or a colour.
- What tone, volume, voice, and language does it speak with?
- What is its most dominant thought/inner dialogue?
- How would you describe it? (Anxious, people-pleasing, angry).
- Has the critic been a motivator for you in the past?
- If your inner critic is in first person e.g. “I am not smart enough”, remove the “I” from the sentence – it does not define who you are.
This can be practised and revisited anytime, whether you are feeling particularly self-critical or not. Identifying our inner critic helps us speak compassionately to ourselves by understanding the thought is not our reality. Individuals with greater self-compassion tend to have greater happiness, life satisfaction, physical health, motivation and maintain stronger relationships. Self-compassion is particularly important in the workplace, as those who practise it more are more resilient and are able to cope better with stresses of life such as work, divorce, health crises and even trauma.
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