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Self Compassion: The Antidote to Self Criticism

Take a moment to reflect on how you speak to yourself. Do you find yourself saying things like “I am lazy, dumb, not good enough, etc.?” Self-criticism is an issue that many people struggle with. There is a common misconception that self-criticism motivates people to reach their goals, however research shows that this is not true. People with a strong inner critic often have a fear of failure, and this can prevent them from reaching their full potential and trying new things. In addition, self-criticism can make you more likely to feel anxious and depressed.

girl dancing in sun happy

One way to target self-criticism is practicing self-compassion. Self compassion is the opposite of self criticism. Self-compassion improves our ability to cope with negative emotions, reduces rumination on negative thoughts, and enhances positive mood. In addition, self-compassion has been found to increase intrinsic motivation for self-improvement and growth. Self-compassionate people take responsibility for their mistakes, and they set high standards for themselves. Lastly, self-compassionate people are also more likely to be resilient when their goals are not met.

What is Self-Compassion?

Self-compassion involves extending compassion to yourself in moments of judgment, failure, and suffering.

3 Components of Self-Compassion

  1. Mindfulness: the practice of being fully present in the moment, nonjudgmentally

  • Mindfulness helps us pay attention to our feelings and thoughts as they are. We have to be open to the fact that we are hurting, and we need to be with our own pain to have compassion for ourselves.

2. Self-Kindness

  • Self-compassion involves being kind and warm to ourselves. Instead of criticizing and judging, we are caring and understanding to ourselves.

3. Common Humanity

  • Self-compassion involves recognizing that everyone is imperfect, and everyone struggles in life. Pain, inadequacy, and imperfection is part of the human experience.

Self-Compassion Exercises

Treat yourself like you would your best friend.

  • What would you say to your best friend if they were in your situation? How would you care for your friend and support them?

Practice the RAIN of self-compassion by Tara Brach.

  • Recognize what is going on

  • Allow the experience to be there, just as it is

  • Investigate with interest and care

  • Nurture with self-compassion

Listen to self-compassion guided meditations.

  • Download the Insight Timer app to find free meditations

  • Use Youtube and search for “self-compassion guided meditation”

With the help of a licensed therapist, you can recognize when you're being self-critical, where the critical voice comes from, and learn ways to be kinder to yourself. I support self-critical anxious teens and adults who want to better understand themselves and their pasts to live more fulfilling, balanced lives. (Learn more about me!) If you have difficulties with your inner critic and want more support in being compassionate towards yourself, feel free to give me a call or text at 352-649-3876 or fill out my contact form. I offer free 15 minute consultation calls to all prospective clients to see if we'd be a good fit. Let's start your journey towards healing and growth today!

Written by Sasha Larson, LMHC


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