Being harsh and critical on ourselves is hurtful and isn’t workable in the long run. Be curious of the difficult thoughts and feelings that surface after your “I’m not good enough” story plays. Are you feeling hurt, guilty, disappointed, or something else? Ironically, we might beat ourselves up in the hope that somehow it will help us stop beating ourselves up!
It can be helpful to be curious about where this story comes from and why it plays. If we look closely, we might realise that the inner critic cares. Perhaps it wants us to succeed, to not fail, to keep us safe. If we find ourselves beating ourselves up inside, stirring up that pot of emotional pain, it might then be valuable to find a more sustainable way of treating and caring for ourselves. Ask yourself:
- Would I treat or talk to a friend in need the way I talk to myself?
- How would I care for a friend who is struggling?
So, how can I show compassion to myself when the ‘I’m not good enough story’ pops up?
- Take a breath. Ground yourself in the here and now.
Use your five senses to help you stay present in the moment.
- Name and acknowledge the story that is being played.
You might say, “Ah! That’s the I’m a bad mum movie playing again”, “The inner critter is out!”, or “My mind is telling me that I’ll never make it in life”.
- Thank the inner critic for why it’s there – maybe it is to protect you, to get you motivated, to push you to do better. Be kind to that inner critic. When we activate the caregiving part of ourselves, we may start to feel calmer, safer emotionally, and less in a struggle with the critical part of ourselves.
- Remind yourself that you are not alone. It is normal to go through struggles. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes.
- Be kind to yourself. Ask yourself – how would I care for a friend in a difficult situation? What kind of person would I be to a friend who is struggling? What do I need right now? What might help me flourish and thrive in my life?
I encourage you to explore the website, Self-Compassion, where Kristen Neff shares more about this topic of being compassionate to ourselves. There are several self-compassion exercises that you can practice supporting you in this journey of being kinder and more compassionate towards yourself.
If you would like to learn more about being kinder and compassionate to yourself, or if you are struggling with your inner critic, we would love to help you explore this further as we support you to flourish and thrive in your life.