How you speak to yourself is so important. What you tell yourself will determine how you feel about yourself and your mood.
A little self-criticism is healthy. To be a little self-critical helps you to grow and develop. But it is so important that it is tempered with plenty of kindness and self-compassion. An example of this would be taking responsibility for your mistakes and accepting them, while also seeing them as precious lessons to help you grow.
Are you kind to yourself? Or do you criticise yourself and beat yourself up? Do you forgive yourself for your mistakes?
How would it feel to be your own best friend? Could you imagine being as kind to yourself as you are to someone you really care about?
Your inner critic is that internal voice that tells you that you aren’t good enough or that you can’t do it. Your inner critic might tell you that you never do anything right or other such damaging negative talk. It may sound very much like someone in your past who told you such things.
Maybe this was a parent, or a friend or a partner. Maybe you still have people in your life who tell you these things and reinforce the negative beliefs you already hold about yourself.
Wherever this inner critic came from, the good news is that you can take back control and start to give yourself the love and care that you deserve. You can learn to become your own best friend and treat yourself with the love and care that you deserve.
So how do you do this? How do you shut up that inner critic?
The answer is through self-compassion.
Self-compassion is the practise of treating yourself as you would a really good friend. If a good friend tells you that you are going through a tough time, you wouldn’t say that’s your own fault and you deserve it. You would probably want to give them some kindness and love and nurture. When you give yourself that sort of treatment then you are practising self-compassion.
Starting to practice self-compassion can be as simple as writing down some things that you really like about yourself. Listing a few really positive aspects about yourself can really help you start to connect with self-compassion.
If you struggle initially to think of good things about yourself, you could ask a friend what they like about you.
Imagine yourself as a small child. This could be your own child, or you could imagine yourself when you were a child. Imagine that this child is going through a bad time and feels hurt. What would you say to that child? What might they need to comfort them and make them feel better? This will help you to connect with your own inner child and will help you to start to recognise what you need and give yourself more of it.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable and imperfect. No one is perfect, and we all have flaws and faults and that is absolutely healthy and good. When you start to accept that you don’t have to be strong, perfect or flawless, you can open yourself up to self-compassion.
Through journaling, you can explore the sort of negative self-talk you use at present. Getting those self-criticising words down on paper and reviewing them is very powerful. Once you have them down there, you can practise replacing that negative language with a kinder, self-compassionate language.
For example, you may currently say to yourself that you are a constant failure and you never get anything right. This is so negative and self-critical. Maybe you could replace this by saying; “I am trying my best, and I make mistakes, but I am learning from them and improving.” This will immediately shift your mindset to a more self-compassionate one.
If you are thinking, “I am a bad person”, you could try shifting this to I am a good person who has done something bad. Any shift away from the negative language will help your practise of being more self-compassionate.
Remember that you are not alone. Everyone on earth has an inner critical voice that doubts and nags and says horrible things sometimes. The good news is that with practice, you can start to replace that negative voice with a kinder, nurturing self-compassionate voice.