You’re doing really well.
For most, it’s an easy and sincere statement to give to a friend or family member. The sentiment is genuine, and the person giving it usually won’t think twice as to whether the person receiving it is a deserving recipient or not.
But when it comes to showing the same compassion to ourselves, most of us are not so forthcoming.
“We all have a self-critical voice,” explained Psychologist and Clinical Registrar Danica Hade, “and if we’re looking at the research, self-criticism is often more destructive than it is helpful.”
According to Danica, a critical internal voice can have both short-term and long-term consequences.
“Not only can negative thoughts increase our level of stress, but people who criticise themselves are (also) less likely to achieve their goals in comparison to compassionate people.”
By comparison, those who do practice a little self-compassion experience some pretty impressive benefits, not only for themselves, but for others as well.
Danica explained that research has found those who practice self-compassion have:
1. Less anxiety and depression,
2. An increase in happiness, enthusiasm, optimism and wellbeing and
3. Stronger relationships with other people.
Luckily there are a few ways to give ourselves a little more compassion in our day-to-day lives that don’t involve repeating “I’m a good person” every three minutes.
1. Catch yourself. Notice when your critical voice kicks in and acknowledge it. Practice catching it before it has a chance to really take hold. Mindfully notice your self-critical moments.
2. Now that you have caught yourself in the act of self-criticism, ask yourself “would I speak to a friend like that?” Most likely the answer is no – so maybe try harnessing your “friend” voice and try that out instead. “I’m sorry things didn’t go to plan, can I do anything to help?”
3. Appreciate being human. We are all imperfect and often doing the best we can. We all make mistakes, miss our goals, or suffer in some way. Make room for being beautifully imperfect and embrace your wabi sabi.
Interested in exploring this idea more?
Germer, C. K. (2009). The mindful path to self-compassion: Freeing yourself from destructive thoughts and emotions.New York: Guilford Press