Does your inner critic take over?
The new year usually brings new challenges and new beginnings. It can also, for us Mum’s bring a lot of uncertainty, worry about the future and a LOT of critical thought.
“How will I manage to achieve it all?”
“I won’t have the time.”
“I don’t have the knowledge or skill.”
“I’m not good enough to do this.”
“All the flaws in my child are my fault.”
“I can’t do it.”
Do any of these sound familiar? If you’re anything like me, then ALL of them have crossed your mind at one point or another and maybe all in the last week!
So how can we help ourselves in these situations? Well, setting goals is a good start and I’ll write a blog post about that soon, but even with challenging, but achievable goals. It’s our own inner critic that can hold us back. This is where self-compassion helps.
Self-compassion is simply the ability to treat yourself with care and concern when you’re dealing with those personal inadequacies, mistakes you make, failures and hard life situations. The best way I have ever seen someone explain it is to think “How would I treat a child going through these things?”. There’s no doubt you would treat them with kindness, calmness and with a loving heart. So why don’t we do that with ourselves?
I’ve already shared a post about heading back to our Learning Zone’s as Mum’s rather than trying to perform at every stage – we need to understand and give ourselves credit for the areas where we might need to learn more. But Self-Compassion helps you move back into that learning zone.
What really is Self-Compassion?
It’s neatly composed of three interacting elements:
- Self-kindness versus Self-judgement
- A sense of common humanity versus isolation, and
- Mindfulness versus over-identification
How to improve your self-kindness:
Self-kindness reflects your ability to consider yourself carefully and be understanding to your needs rather than being harshly critical. Try a few of the following tactic to become kinder to yourself:
- Instead of attacking and berating yourself for any perceived shortcomings, be warm with your thoughts and accept yourself for the flawed human being you are – just like everyone else.
- Try not to go into immediate ‘Fixing mode’ when life throws sticks at you, give yourself some time to pause first and offer comfort. Listen to some music, call a friend, go for a walk – just remove yourself from the immediate actions.
- Answer your inner critic. Pretend you’re answering a child with the same problem – how would you tell them to think differently?
How to improve your feeling of isolation:
The sense of common humanity is simply the realisation that NONE of us are perfect – we all make mistakes, we all fail at something and we all at some point have serious life challenges. You are NOT alone in your troubles, however much it can feel like it sometimes. Here are a few suggestions for feeling less alone:
- Share vulnerability. Don’t try and be strong all the time and hide how you really feel. Share your concerns, show what you’re worried about. Showing vulnerability is catching, when you choose to do this, others will follow suit and you’ll soon be sharing ways to help each other.
- Be inclusive. Don’t be afraid to share worries with those you don’t know as well, you’ll either find new common ground OR you’ll know whether that person is genuinely worth your time. Win Win.
- LISTEN. Simply listen to others when they speak – notice when they are sharing vulnerability and reciprocate. You’ll find relationships become stronger and you’ll feel less alone.
How to improve your mindfulness:
In this context, Mindfulness is about being aware of your own painful emotions and experiences in an even manner – one that doesn’t exaggerate those emotions nor avoids them. It’s important to realise that awareness of these difficult situations is important before you can even try to extend yourself self-compassion. So hiding from them really doesn’t help. Try a few of these things to help you feel more balanced:
- Be honest with yourself. Be genuine in your thinking, write down the EXACT truth of the situation. Without amplifying or avoiding parts you find difficult or think you should be able to handle better. Once you have the FACTS in front of you on paper. You can’t try and over-emphasise elements.
- Pay attention to the whole story, don’t over-identify with one part. This will narrow your focus and make you miss key positive parts that can help you find solutions.
- Find your own ways to mindfulness – ways of stepping back and taking your concentration elsewhere for some time, there are lots of tools on the market, like colouring books, meditation, yoga, music and much more. Find what works for you. Simply look to it for clarity rather than problem-solving.
There is so much research out there that shows how being kind to yourself promotes better well-being. Therefore, for me it is worth making time to practice – yes practice – this isn’t something that comes easily to most of us. We have to spend time bettering ourselves, how else do we expect to improve? So, each time you hear your inner critic appear – use it as a chance to exercise self-compassion. Learn what works for you and keep doing it.
Invest in you. Your self-worth will thank you.