In today’s Society, we are taught that Self-Criticism will motivate us to change. If we don’t criticise ourselves we will be self indulgent and lazy! And that Explains our failure to quit smoking! We can beat up on ourselves like nobody else because we know ourselves better than anybody! I don’t have to tell you the about the Voice or the Message – we are all intimately in relationship with our Self Critic!
But is it true that we will change better, faster, more successfully by judging our own lives? NeoroScience says definitively – NO! Self Criticism sets us up as both the attacked and the attacker and registers in the reptilian part of our Nervous system. It stimulates Cortisol and Adrenaline, the “fight/flight” hormones. But the one Person we can’t run away from is Myself! The result is Stress which leads to more Self-Criticism and more sense of Failure and eventually Depression! Self Criticism undermines Motivation!
A healthy alternative to Self-Criticism is Self-Compassion! Self Compassion releases Oxytocin and Opiates, the feel good hormones, into the nervous system and Cortisol declines. These hormones are released when we feel warmth, gentle touch, and soft vocalizations. When we feel safe and comforted we are in the optimal mind state to do our Best!
Self Compassion has 3 main components:
(1)Self Kindness – saying things to ourselves that we would say to our good friends.
Would you tell your Best Friend, “You’ve quit umpteen times! You’ll never get it right! You’re going to die a smoker!” or would you say, “Of course, you can quit! Never give up! It isn’t easy but I know you can do this and I’ll support you 100%!” ???
(2) Common Humanity – not how am I different from others, but how am I the same as others. All humans are imperfect.
“If I can’t quit perfectly, then I can’t quit at all! I’m just so different from everybody else! Nobody understands me!” vs. “We are all Addicts and have an Addict mentality in common! I’m not alone! These people know what it’s like to fight the Addiction and WIN! If they can do it so can I!”
(3) Mindfulness – accept the fact that we are suffering so that we can give ourselves compassion.
“I have been my own Worst Enemy instead of my own Best Friend! No wonder I feel tired and defeated and afraid! I need to stop picking on me and be nice!”
Sometimes we are so busy criticising ourselves, we don’t even realize how much that hurts!
Be compassionate to yourself! There is nothing Selfish or Self Centered in being Kind to ME! Actually the nicer you are to yourself, the nicer you will be to those around you! It’s the generous thing to do!