What was the last thing you said to yourself about yourself?
Was it kind? If it was, congratulations!
If it wasn’t, don’t beat yourself up further. You are not alone.
We all tend to think negative things about ourselves all the time. We downplay our accomplishments, brush off compliments, and believe that we could always be a little better in some way.
We, as a society, glorify self-criticism.
Being highly self-critical may lead to success on some level, but it has been proven to kill our happiness. According to Kristin Neff, Ph.D., associate professor in human development at the University of Texas at Austin, studies have shown that self-criticism can lead to lowered self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.
So, how do we stay motivated to work hard, get that new job, achieve a healthy weight, and become our best selves without trading our happiness in the process?
We stop being so hard on ourselves. We start being kind. We mindfully practice self-compassion.
It is absolutely possible to take actions that lead to success without all of the drama we tend to create in our own heads.
We just have to choose new thoughts.
Think about how self-criticism plays out in your own life for a moment.
Does beating yourself up for having a few too many cookies melt away the extra calories? No.
Does shaming yourself because you only checked off 6 of your 300 to-do list items inspire little elves to come and finish off the remaining chores and projects while you sleep? No.
Does getting down on yourself about your bank balance being lower than desired generate more cash flow? No.
The results of self-berating, negative thinking are not positive. They are painful and lower our vibration.
When we continually operate with low gloomy energy, we are always pushing uphill. We are always waiting to “be happy when.”
When we flip the script of our internal dialogue, we up our frequency. We change the way we look ourselves and the world. The pieces start to fall into place. We start to see less to be self-critical of.
We become able to approach ourselves with nurturing supportive thoughts that allow us to take inspired action toward our goals.
We become successful and happy.
Self-compassion is a practice. As with all practices, it takes dedication and will evolve over time. The key is to begin.
Start now. Even if you aren’t so sure that you are ready.
Throughout the day, notice your thoughts.
If they are not kind, how could they be more so? The goal is not to sugar coat your thoughts or trick yourself, simply get your point to yourself across in a more loving way. How would you talk to a friend? How do you want others to speak to you?
This practice can be challenging at first. Meditation is extremely helpful.
Simple Silent Meditation:
Set a timer for 5 minutes and sit down.
Breath evenly and steadily.
Notice your thoughts.
Try not to follow any one train of thought, just watch them come in and go out—like waves.
If you find that you are following a thought, be glad you noticed and come back to your breath and observation.
At the end of your meditation, take a moment to take stock. What were the thoughts moving through your mind about? How could you address the same topics while practicing self-compassion?
Enjoy the process. Quieting the inner critic opens up a whole new world. As my teacher Sharon Gannon says, “Magic is a shift in perception.”