Think of when you sit with a good friend when you’re feeling sad, or disappointed. As they listen to you, how do you feel?
My hope is you feel their empathy. This caring connection helps you start feeling better.
Now think of how you treat yourself when you’re by yourself and feeling sad. Are you as kind to yourself as your friend is? Or, like many of us, do you fall into Self criticism?
Being Self critical is often an automatic response to disappointment or bad feelings. We can be so accustomed to a Self critical response, that if we don’t hear that negative, judging voice we feel anxious.
Is that Self critical Voice Really Just a Bully?
Why do we keep this negative voice around? This bully part may be tough on us, but, many times it has helped us get the job done. When we feel lethargic or unmotivated, this voice will tell us how we have no willpower, or that we lack motivation. This tactic can spur us into action! This is what makes it so hard to stop being so critical. We can become completely dependent on that critical voice to keep us on track.
Many of us respond with Self criticism after a disappointing situation. The danger is of course when our internal critic gets too big and powerful in our inner system it can act like an inner bully. This inner bully criticizes us so much we don’t fully get to express ourself in our lives, and we feel unhappy or unfulfilled.
Your Self Critical Part has Good Intentions for You (and it is overworked)
All of your parts have good intentions for you, including the Self critical one. It wants to motivate you to do better.
When we bring Self Compassion to ourselves we have the same reaction as if we were with a caring and loving friend. We feel connected and calmer and maybe not as sad.
The Self Compassionate voice in your head loves you and feels your pain. The voice that will say to you,
“Life is so hard some times. Life is hard for you right now. Yes it is difficult to think these thoughts and feel them so hard and deep. How can I support you and be kind in your deep despair? What do you want or need?”
Since being Self critical is often an automatic response to a disappointment it is the Self Compassion that is less known and unused therefore Self Compassion will work best if practiced intentionally.
6 Things to Say to Break the Negative Thought Cycle
Depression is a biological, psychological and social condition which acts as a broken record of negative thoughts, feelings, and patterns. So how can you develop a conscious part that is both well-meaning and provides the right kind of support to yourself when your are feeling in a low dark mood?
Dust off your parts that hold Empathy and Understanding and send Judgement on a vacation.
Here are 6 things to say to yourself when you feel taken over by depressed mood. You can also write them down and post them around your home.
1) Have a Self Compassion mantra to say to yourself.
When it is difficult to speak kindly to yourself in your mind, a mantra is helpful. Repeat this over and over to yourself to feel calm.
- In this moment I am suffering
- Suffering is a part of living
- I will be kind to myself in this moment
- I will befriend myself in this time of need. *
2) Say to yourself “I’m here for you” and then be there.
Remember how good it feels when someone offers to help unexpectantly? You can do this for yourself. Notice you don’t feel well. Ask yourself what do you need or want. And give that thing to yourself. You will feel cared for.
If you don’t hear what to do, choose something caring for yourself. If you were British you would make yourself a cup of tea for example. It is the act that feels warm and connecting not necessarily what was done.
3) “I like______ about me” (fill in the blank)
Make a list of what you like about yourself. Close your eyes and remember a time when you were doing something you liked or that turned out well.
4) Say “Yes, this is really hard right now.”
There are bad things that do happen to good people and when this is seen and acknowledged by you, the bad feelings don’t yell so loudly for your attention. Maybe you are exaggerating the issues right now, but they are still not good and feel bad. So notice it to yourself and say you see the problem.
5) Ask yourself …“who else can help me?”
Sometimes getting some new information from the outside can make the change we need to have happen. Can you ask:
- A family member?
- A friend?
- A mental health professional?
- A mental health hotline?
6) Say “I can connect to others who also feel like this”
Connect with others who have been through it too. Our best teachers are those who have gone before us.
This is much easier today with the internet. You can stay anonymous if you choose, and still share and learn from others. The more connection and less misinformation the more potential for moving through and being the person you are meant to be.
*The mantra is taken from Kristin Neff PhD’s Self Compassion Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind (affiliate link). I highly recommend this book to anyone who needs a helping hand through learning how to be nicer to themselves.
The thumbnail image is “Science proves: Self Compassion is more effective” by Flickr user Melissa Dinwiddie is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. The photo was cropped for proportion.
The photo is my own.