Not according to researchers at the University of Texas, Austin, who reported that self-criticism is damaging and results in problems such as low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. Self-compassion, on the other hand, is associated with greater well-being, better emotional coping skills and compassion for others.
Self-compassion involves accepting thoughts and feelings, observing life without judgement, being kind and understanding to ourselves in our suffering and when doing so, realising we are not alone.
Being self-compassionate might not come easy at first but here’s a few tips that may help.
- Imagine someone else - what would we do or say to someone we cared about who was suffering.
- Look at your language - if we wouldn’t use the words we use when we talk about ourselves to others, we are probably being too self-critical.
- Comfort your body - kind physical gestures, such as putting our hand on our heart or holding our arm, affect our bodies and trigger the soothing parasympathetic system.
- Memorise compassionate phrases - when we find ourselves being self-critical, having stock phrases, which are meaningful to us, can help. For instance, ‘At this moment I am suffering’, ‘Suffering is part of life’, ‘May I be kind to myself?’, ‘May I show myself compassion?’.
- Meditate – practising this can help retrain the brain which makes it easier to perform self-compassionate gestures and makes self-soothing easier.