-you weren’t tempted to scrutinize your body each morning (or however often) while looking in the mirror?
-you were as loving towards yourself as you are towards everyone else in your life?
-you didn’t have any perfectionism-angst driving your work, driving how things need to appear on the outside?
-you had no need to prove your own worth to yourself, over and again?
-being nice to yourself took no effort?
Although there is a purpose to having an ego, to having judgements, many of us waste a lot of energy orienting around - and fighting against - our inner critics. If we all could change this trend, we’d see major changes ripple out across the planet impacting our kids, our earth, our health.
We all want that… of course But HOW do we get there?
How do you let go of those self-judgements, those “not-enough” beliefs you default to all too often? How will you show the kids of the next generations what self-love is, particularly if you never saw any models of unconditional self-love during your formative years?
The good news is, there are concrete ways to build the self compassion muscle. Here are just a few!
- Ask - “Is it true?” Too often, women especially exaggerate their perceived weaknesses (and then compare themselves to other women, see #3). If you’ve catastrophized your situation, you can totally talk yourself back into reality by asking this one question. For example, if you’ve gotten some negative feedback on the project you’re working on, and worrying about the stability of your job… it’s a perfect time to ask yourself if it’s true that your performance on the project points to any job danger. It most likely doesn’t; there’s likely just some “I never feel secure financially” pattern at play. But if after you’ve checked in, you’ve discerned there is something to be concerned about with your job, that’s good information to take action on. Otherwise, that energy you’re wasting worrying about something that’s not even realistic is m uch better invested elsewhere… like in healing that pattern, perhaps!
- If you tend to be self-deprecating, watch out. This will be a good one for you to play with to cultivate compassion for yourself. Do you tend to (even jokingly) say things like, “I’m such an idiot” or “I’m useless as a cook”? I invite you to practice eliminating such jokes from your repertoire - they have more impact than you may imagine.
- Be mindful of comparisons. Notice especially if, when comparing yourself to others, you somehow always end up the “loser” so to speak. You may be in the trap of subconsciously searching out just those comparisons that support your bias or story (that you’re messy, incapable, too much…) and downplaying any refuting evidence.
- Consider - how do you talk to a beloved pet or friend? What types of words and tone of voice do you use? What do you do to calm loved ones when they’re upset? Extend these same graces to yourself when you notice your tone is getting harsh.
- Have realistic expectations of yourself. When trying to build a new habit, make time to do it everyday, many times a day. And if you can’t make adequate time for it - acknowledge that limitation! Too often, we expect ourselves unrealistically to make things happen, no matter the circumstances. For example, if you’re already maxed but want to build in time for yoga, you need to develop a concrete plan for how it’s going to work and what’s going to give. Otherwise, magical thinking can lead to disappointment and self criticism. Sometimes when I see that a client is in this space, I’ll ask, “Did you expect yourself to make that huge change during a time when you’re just trying to keep your head above water?” Your expectations of yourself need to match your inner-resources (and outer resources) at any given time. It’s only fair.
- Develop some healing tools for your limiting beliefs. Do you know tapping, Access statements, theta healing, or other protocols for “changing your reality”? When you recognize that the “reality” you’re in isn’t serving you anymore, pull out your tools. If you don’t have any, find a mantra that resonates with you, like “Even though I’m disappointed right now, I love myself anyway.” Repeat. Begin to feel into the truth of your mantra. Keep repeating. Different spiritual systems use repeating prayers and mantras as a way of shifting consciousness. Hint in case you didn't already pick up on this: it takes a lot of repetitions for the shift to begin happening. If you’re feeling pretty stuck, consider repeating your affirmation/mantra 100x twice a day for at least a week (the time required is only 4-7 minutes a pop, so it's totally doable).
The main thing to remember when cultivating a new way of being towards yourself is to, as consistently as you can, come back to the practice anytime you notice yourself getting judge-y again (it’ll happen). Your inner critic has been on the job since your school-years, if you’re like the average person, so don’t be frustrated by the timeline required to train a new part of yourself. It’ll get there. And soon, it won’t require as much attention. One day, you’ll notice, those self-compassionate thoughts are IN there! In your bones!
So just keep practicing; the results can be magic when you simply commit to keep at it!