Has the thought “I’m so stupid” or “I’ll never be able to do it” ever entered your mind? If so, you’re not alone. Current research shows that the human brain’s default state of mind is a critical one. Part of the human condition is to engage in negative self-talk. But there’s hope for us yet. We can train our mind’s to overcome that negative self-talk with a self-compassion practice. Read on to learn how.
When I was researching this topic, I found it fascinating that our default state of mind is to be critical of ourselves.
I know that I’m often critical of myself. It’s something I’ve been intentionally working on this past year.
But, what I found most promising, is that when we learn to treat ourselves with compassion, we become more confident, and we’re more able to overcome our limiting beliefs.
As a teacher and advocate of achieving personal growth goals, this research is promising in so many ways.
What is self-compassion?
Psychologists have defined self-compassion as the act of treating yourself with kindness when you are suffering or struggling in some way.
The opposite of acting with self-compassion is when you’re critical of yourself.
If you’ve ever beaten yourself up because you made a poor decision, something went poorly at work or in a relationship, or because you’re not happy with your body, you are not alone.
Although negative self-talk appears to be our default state of mind, the good news is that we can learn how to overcome negative self-talk with a self-compassion practice.
Kristen Neff, the pioneer in self-compassion research, tells us that we can train our brains to be self-compassionate.
It appears to be a skill that we can all learn.
When we intentionally practice being compassionate to ourselves, our brains will eventually start listening. Our thoughts will move from being self-critical to self-compassionate automatically.
Isn’t that amazing?
How to Practice Self-Compassion With A Mindfulness Practice
So, how do we re-train our brains to treat ourselves more compassionately?
Well, there are several ways to do this.
One of the most effective ways to practice self-compassion, as discussed by the researchers in this field, is through a mindfulness practice.
If you’re not familiar with mindfulness or meditation, it’s all about being able to be self-aware in the present moment.
Being present is something most of us struggle with in today’s overscheduled world.
A meditation practice will help you learn how to stay present because you’re training yourself to calm your mind.
Meditation typically starts with setting an intention. Your intention is what you return to when your thoughts start wandering. Over time you become better and better at reigning in your wandering thoughts.
If you’d like to learn more about self-compassion and meditation, I’d recommend you read The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions.
Other Ways To Practice Self-Compassion
Although mindfulness is one way to practice self-compassion, there are many other ways you can incorporate this practice into your daily life.
Here are some other ways to overcome negative self-talk with a self-compassion practice:
- Ask yourself this question: Get into the habit of asking yourself – “Is this what I would say to a friend in this situation?” If the answer is no, then respond to yourself in a way that you would respond to your friend.
- Write affirming self-compassion statements: Try writing a few affirming self-compassion statements and read them to yourself every day. Better yet, tape them to your mirror.
- Write yourself a letter: Write yourself a letter as though you were a compassionate friend helping out someone who is struggling.
The more you practice self-compassion, the easier it will be for you to overcome your inner critic.
Do you have a self-compassion practice?
If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below.
With Love and Joy,