Being Kind to Ourselves

It is all too easy to be self-critical, doubting our ability and potential and giving ourselves a hard time over the little mistakes we make. We might find ourselves thinking, ‘I’m no good at this!’, ‘I’ll never make it’, ‘I’m not worthy’, or ‘I doubt they will like me’.

We wouldn’t take such criticism from another person, so why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we validate and succumb to these thoughts?

When we look closely at these thoughts we might find that

  1. they are often based on scant evidence;

  2. they are just thoughts - thoughts are not always facts;

  3. ultimately they hinder rather than help us; we know that we are not at our best when holding such self-doubt.

  4. they are not always our thoughts - sometimes we inherit the criticisms from other people from our childhood onwards, believing perhaps that they have greater insight into our character than we do ourselves.

With mindfulness, we learn to step back from these thoughts - to see them for what they are. We also practice kindness toward ourselves - an antidote to self-criticism. Over time, we begin to appreciate as well as forgive ourselves, and begin to recognise that no matter what, we deserve to be happy, fulfilled, and deserving of love and kindness. In such states we are much more likely to live a skilful life, giving ourselves less to criticise ourselves about, as well as less likely to be critical of others - understanding that they too may be giving themselves a tough time.

Try this exercise: the next time you have a self-critical thought, replace it with a loving thought and see what happens.

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