You just missed a deadline and now you feel guilt, shame, embarrassment, anger, and possibly other emotions. Then comes the “I should have . . .” “Why didn’t I . . .” or even worse “I’m so stupid for . . .” Any of these resonate for you? I have asked people why they say these things to themselves and here are some of the responses I have gotten:
“I’m just trying to hold myself accountable.”
“I need to evaluate my processes and figure out how to be better.”
“If I don’t, then who will?”
The problem with some of these statements is the attitude behind the statement and the words used. When we have that critical attitude, it sets us up for guilt and shame versus confidence and courage. This inner critic is the problem. How do I fix it? Well, first, it is important to look at your attitude about self-compassion and switching up the way you speak to yourself. Self-compassion means being gentle, kind and understanding with yourself; accepting that you are not perfect; and understanding that there is potential for learning and growth in every mistake you make (Neff, 2003). I want you to think about how you would speak to your best friend about the same situation as you are experiencing and assess if how you are thinking or acting towards yourself is the same. One thing to note: in individuals who do not practice self-compassion, we see an increase in the potential for developing mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Think about this.
How do you increase your self-compassion?
Each day, ask yourself these questions: 1. How would I like to feel today? 2. What's one small step I can take to cultivate this feeling? 3. What is one thought stopping me from being kind to myself and what is a different way to think about it?
Now, address what you just asked yourself.
AND . . . if you don’t complete it—it’s okay! Try again tomorrow.
Be kind to yourself and you will be kind to others.