I have yet to meet anyone who is completely free from having an “inner critic.” All of us have, to some degree, an inner critical voice that, at times, can judge us harshly. Judging ourself or criticizing ourself for doing or saying something we view as mistaken or wrong is pretty common. It often seems that we think being harsh with ourselves will help us to “do better,” or “toe the line.” We see kindness and support toward ourselves as being weak or self-indulgent. In fact, the opposite is true.

Defined as treating oneself with kindness, understanding, and acceptance, self-compassion offers a range of benefits that can transform our lives for the better.

First and foremost, self-compassion serves as a powerful antidote to the harsh inner critic that often plagues our minds. Instead of rebuking ourselves for our perceived flaws and shortcomings, self-compassion encourages us to embrace our humanity with empathy. By cultivating a mindset of self-acceptance, we can break free from the cycle of self-judgment and develop a deeper sense of inner peace and contentment. Moreover, self-compassion fosters resilience in the face of adversity. When we encounter setbacks or failures, instead of wallowing in self-blame, self-compassion enables us to respond with understanding and support. This compassionate attitude towards ourselves not only helps us bounce back from life’s challenges but also allows us to grow and learn from our experiences with more grace and resilience.

A question I often ask clients is, “What would you say to a good friend in the same situation?” Most of us would never think of speaking to someone we care about who is struggling in a negative, harsh way. Why do we do it to ourselves?

There has been much research and evidence that self-compassion enhances our emotional well-being by promoting greater emotional regulation and stability. By acknowledging and validating ourselves without judgment, we can actually move forward with more balance and resilience. This approach to emotional management not only reduces stress and anxiety but also cultivates a deeper sense of emotional balance and well-being.

Self-compassion also strengthens our relationships with others. When we extend compassion towards ourselves, we become more compassionate towards others, fostering deeper connection and understanding with others. Instead of being self-indulgent, accepting ourselves as human helps us to accept and connect more deeply with the humanity of others. By supporting ourselves with kindness and compassion, we open the door to the transforming power of self-love and self-acceptance, paving the way for a more balanced emotional life and a greater sense of well-being.

After all, we’re only human

Categories: Wellness