Written by: Colette Mrazek, RCC
The practice of self-compassion can make a significant impact on a person’s happiness and well being. Yet so many of us have a persistent, nagging, negative and judgemental voice that lives inside our heads and makes us feel horrible about ourselves. Here is an exercise for those of us who struggle with self-criticism and want to learn how to replace this inner critic with a kinder way of relating to ourselves:
- Listen to the words it is saying – if you can, write them down ( Why do you bother? You’re no good at this; You idiot! Why do you say such stupid things?)
- Imagine what this voice looks like – if you can, draw a picture of it (eg. sharp, pointed face, looking down at me, hands on hip, expression of disgust …)
- Imagine yourself picking up this inner critic, look it in the eyes and say “thank you for your help, but I don’t need you anymore” – if you have a drawing of it, rip it up (or scrunch it, burn it, shred it, whatever feels most powerful to you)
- Brainstorm some new phrases that are kinder, more encouraging and more compassionate. Write them all down. (eg. It’s been a while since I’ve done this. It’s gonna be hard but at least I’m trying; This makes me nervous but I know I’ll get through this; Good for me! I didn’t want to do this but here I am, doing it anyway)
- Experiment with the phrases you just wrote down: Close your eyes, put your hand on your heart and say each phrase to you, one at at time. With each phrase, take a few deep breaths and notice the effect the words have on you.
- Choose the compassionate phrase that feels most true for you. You may have smiled when you said it to yourself, perhaps you teared up or got a lump in your throat. Perhaps you felt a sense of relaxation or relief. As long as it was kind, loving and encouraging, you are on the right track.
- If you struggled with coming up with phrases, try again, perhaps with a friend who you find caring and empathic. If you continue to struggle, it may be worthwhile to reach out to a therapist to explore what’s going on for you. We can all become more self-compassionate, we just might need to do some personal work before we are able to speak to ourselves in this way.
- Once you have chosen your phrase, practice it over and over again (eyes closed, hand on heart, deep breaths). Do it before you begin something challenging or stressful.
- Whenever you hear that inner critic starting up again, thank it and tell it you don’t need it anymore (step 3). Then breathe deeply with your hand on your heart and say your compassionate phrase to yourself again. Repeat the phrase until you start to feel better.
For a demonstration of this exercise and more information about how self-compassion can curb one’s negative self-talk, click here
Article retrieved from: http://colettemrazek.com/quieting-the-inner-critic-with-self-compassion/