Self-compassion is something that I’ve been ruminating over more recently. The lack of self-compassion has also been a chronic issue for me for many years. I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank my therapist for sending me some resources to explore this subject, in particular a blog post by Dr. Kristin Neff, “Why We Need to Have Compassion For Our Inner Critic”. One paragraph that really resonated with me is below:
“Still, it’s important to remember that when our inner critic attacks, at root it is trying to ward off danger. Marshal Rosenberg, author of the book Non-Violent Communication, says self-criticism is the “tragic expression of an unmet need.” It’s tragic because self-criticism makes us feel horrible and doesn’t effectively motivate productive change. (See my blog “The Motivational Power of Self-Compassion.”) But if we look closely — our inner critic cares. There is some safety need it is trying to meet. Our inner critic wants us to be happy, but doesn’t know a better way to go about it”.
What this made me realize is that that inner saboteur is misguided as opposed to just being totally destructive for destruction’s sake. That is a relief in and of itself to realize that there isn’t this inherently bad voice inside tearing you down, but it’s overly harsh and negative. And that can be altered.
Discovering what self love means is beyond an Instagram hashtag. Sometimes, it’s really not that easy to identify what your emotional or physical needs are at any given moment, especially in a culture where as a woman especially (in my opinion), you are expected to have your shit together in every aspect of your life. It’s not enough to be just okay. That’s the point we’re hammered with in the media and in day-to-day life. You need to excel in all areas with composure, grace, beauty, and a smile. That’s what my inner saboteur tells me anyway. Does it do the same to you?
Why is it that we need to have it all together and figured out? Why does the voice have to be mean and abusive? Well, I’m realizing it doesn’t have to be, especially since I know how to impart constructive criticism. I do it every day at work when I give my candidates feedback. Also, if I’m asked for honest advice, I will assist family and friends by offering constructive criticism in a gentle way. It’s time to tweak my own inner voice. Living for many years in shame of my body and what I perceived to be a lack of achievement in a variety of areas made me stronger and helped me to overcome some of those issues, but only when I became too tired to listen to the negative thought cycle in my head.
Well now, I’d like to take a more proactive approach in listening to my own needs and recognizing that it’s not always going to be going to the gym, eating healthy, being more patient, reading more, working harder, etc. Being adequate sometimes is absolutely fine and my inner critic needs to accept that as being human.
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