In most cases, you are your own worst critic. That critical inner voice points out your flaws, your failings and everything you don't like about yourself. However, the way you view and speak to yourself plays a huge role in your overall well-being.
One way to be kinder to yourself is to practice the art of self-compassion. Here are some ways that you can develop self-compassion to live a fuller and happier life.
What Is Self-Compassion?
Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone has shortcomings. When we show compassion to others, we recognize their suffering and offer them kindness when they fail instead of harsh judgment or criticism. Self-compassion is the same practice, except you're acting compassionately toward yourself.
No one expects you to be perfect. Self-compassion allows you to stop mercilessly judging yourself and criticizing your own inadequacies. It also requires you to be kind and understanding when confronted with your own personal failings.
Five Ways to Develop Self-Compassion
To quiet the loud voice of the self-critic, you need to recognize you are not worthless or unacceptable. Being able to care for yourself and extend self-compassion will allow you to be happier and healthier. Here are five tips for developing that all-important self-compassion:
1. Forgive Yourself
When you make a mistake, do you dwell on it for a long time? Do you chastise yourself and ruminate over how things could have gone differently? When you derive our self-worth from a need to do things perfectly or a performance mentality, these feelings are often the result.
When confronted with your shortcomings, accept that you are not perfect. Remind yourself that you are valued by friends, family and colleagues. This will help you to be gentler with yourself, grow from your mistakes and then let them go.
2. Embrace Challenges as a Chance to Grow
Too often, when a challenge comes our way that's difficult to overcome, we feel defeated, especially when we fail. But challenges should be viewed as opportunities. There's a well-known quote by Thomas Edison when asked about the thousands of times he failed before successfully creating the light bulb — "I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work."
Your failings don't have to keep you down. They can inspire you to continue and succeed as you learn from your mistakes.
3. Avoid Comparing Yourself to Others
Comparing yourself to others is a dangerous trap. It is easy to feel threatened or defeated when someone else excels at something you wish you were better at.
Appreciating the talents that others possess, while also accepting your strengths and weaknesses, will allow you to find inspiration in their journey rather than feeling threatened. Also, remember that you will never know their internal struggles. After all, they could be wrestling with their own personal inner critic.
4. Develop a Sense of Gratitude
Rather than dwelling on what you don't have or what you're not, work to appreciate what you have and who you are right now. Gratitude is a powerful tool. By focusing your mind on your blessings and learning to appreciate them, you can take the focus off your shortcomings that your inner critic likes to focus on.
5. Practice Mindfulness
It's not healthy to suppress your negative emotions, but it is also not helpful to dwell on them or exaggerate them. Mindfulness is the ability to view your pessimistic thoughts or feelings without judgment or labeling. You do not have to suppress them or deny that they are there. At any given moment, be aware of how you are feeling and acknowledge it, but then you must let it go so that you can move forward.
Reach out to Receive Help
If the voice of your self-critic is becoming too much and is rooted in other mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety, then it may be time to seek professional help. Brookhaven Retreat offers women a safe environment where you can receive professional and discreet assistance for mental health issues. Admitting you need help doesn't mean accepting defeat. In fact, reaching out could be the beginning of a new chapter in developing self-compassion. Contact us today to find out more.