Many of my clients have fierce inner critics and benefit greatly from learning how to be kinder to themselves.

The steps to self-compassion

The first step toward self-compassion is simply being aware that you’re hurting and in need of attention. The second step is providing yourself the same comfort and encouragement that you would a good friend or a small child. And finally, self-compassion involves a realization that you’re not alone; many other people have had similar experiences. This isn’t to minimize your personal situation, but to let you know that hard times are part of the human condition.

Barriers to Self-Compassion

The No. 1 reason people give for not wanting to try self-compassion practices is they’re afraid they’ll become self-indulgent and wallow in self-pity. “If I’m nice to myself, won’t I just lie around all day eating chips and watching TV?”

This is not an unreasonable fear, as we live in a culture that uses criticism as motivation. To some extent, it works. Think about it: If you have a baseball coach who yells at you, it will probably motivate you in the short term, as you’ll want to avoid the yelling and the humiliation. But over time, this can lead to problems. Too much criticism can leave players feeling demoralized, and some will develop performance anxiety.

Hopefully, you’ve had a coach or a mentor in your life that has done the opposite. Instead of yelling at you when you make a mistake, they say, “Good try. You messed up, but here’s what we can do to make it better.” The coach doesn’t gloss over your weaknesses, but also avoids attacking you personally in the process. Kindness and encouragement can get you moving, too.

The Benefits of Self-compassion

A growing body of scientific research shows that self-compassion:

  • Increases productivity. People who use an encouraging self-coaching style find they actually accomplish more.

  • Decreases procrastination. Self-compassion interrupts the loop between negative self-talk and procrastination, making it more likely you’ll stop hesitating and simply jump in to complete those projects you’ve been avoiding.

  • Increases creativity. Extending yourself some TLC can also lead to accessing higher levels of creativity. You’re also more likely to show up and put your work out there.

In our work together, I’ll teach you self-compassion techniques that will help you calm your inner critic so you will feel more confident and better able to live a life that truly matters.

You can have compassion for yourself-which is not self-pity. You’re simply recognizing that ‘this is tough, this hurts,’ and bringing the same warmhearted wish for suffering to lessen or end that you would bring to any dear friend grappling with the same pain, upset, or challenges as you.
— Rick Hanson