From criticism to compassion - and why should I invest in it at all?
Or: How does your conversation with yourself sound?
After watching Kristin Neff's TED talk, I knew that her book on self-compassion was the next one I had to read.
Neff gives self-compassion a prominent place in personal and spiritual development, and explains it in a way that is easy to understand and empathize with.
What is self compassion?
Compassion is an emotion that expresses a sense of participation in the suffering of others, often with a desire to alleviate or reduce it.
Self-compassion is turning that emotion inward, towards ourselves.
Self-compassion allows us to support ourselves, balance our emotions, improve our self-image, and motivate ourselves to face challenges.
As I delved deeper into the subject of self-compassion, I wondered: what is the opposite of self-compassion?
The answer is self-criticism, or what I like to call "the scolding voice in the head."
This is the voice that highlights our failures and weaknesses, judges us harshly for our mistakes and shortcomings, and makes it hard for us to forgive ourselves.
Excessive self-criticism can lead to guilt, shame, low self-worth, and unrealistic standards.
Why do we keep this scolding voice in our heads?
We believe it motivates us to improve, gives us control, and pushes us to succeed. However, research shows that self-criticism is associated with depression, anxiety, procrastination, difficulty in relationships, and dissatisfaction with life.
Does self-criticism really motivate us?
What effect does it have on our self-image and subconscious?
Would we talk to our friends or children in the same way we talk to ourselves?
If you're not yet convinced of the power of self-compassion, I highly recommend reading Kristin Neff's book on the subject.
Neff outlines three components of self-compassion and provides practical ways to apply them:
Developing self-kindness: in simple words, talk to yourself nicely! Try to speak to yourself the way you would speak to a friend or loved one.
Connection to common humanity: recognize that imperfection is normal and that everyone experiences difficulties and challenges. You are not alone in your struggles.
Be present: practice mindfulness to be more present in the moment and observe your thoughts and emotions without judgment. This can help you deal with unpleasant emotions more effectively.
Implementing these components of self-compassion can be a great first step towards a more fulfilling and compassionate life. So what are you waiting for?
Give self-compassion a try and see the positive changes it can bring to your life.
To learn more about self compassion in times of change, listen to this episode of The Coffee Talkie Show.