"Self compassion is too soft". "I'll lose all my motivation if i'm nice to myself".
"I wouldn't even know how to be kind to myself". "The only way I get things done is by being hard on myself".
These are common comments that come up during the groups I run for women on self compassion. They might sound familiar because they might be the same exact things running through your mind.
Let me back up a bit by describing what self compassion is
Self compassion has 3 main pillars to it:
Self Kindness > Self Judgment
Self compassion encourages to be understanding and kind to ourselves when we struggle, fail, or feel inadequate. Instead of criticizing and placing judgment on ourselves, self compassion allows us to be a bit more gentle with ourselves and realize, imperfection is a part of the human experience.
Common Humanity > Isolation
This pillar of self compassion reminds us that we are all human and we all have struggles. Instead of thinking "I am so stupid. I am the only one who does this/thinks this/ struggles with this". We remember that as humans we are imperfect. We all struggle. We all have our shortcomings. Being imperfect does not make us flawed, it makes us human.
The ability to be aware and acknowledge our thoughts and feelings [without judgment]. To become curious and aware without over identifying.
Most of us are pretty comfortable being critical of ourselves. It's typically easy and perceived normal in our culture to minimize our attributes and magnetize our struggles. We live in an inner world of dialogue in our minds and this dialogue shapes how we we perceive ourselves and our abilities.
I want you to pause and take a moment to journal or think about this question.
What is the purpose of my inner critic?
Now, you might be thinking there is zero purpose to it, but I would argue if there was no purpose, you wouldn't be doing it. It might not be serving you well, but it is serving you in some way.
As scary as putting your fighting gloves away can feel, i'm going to go out on a limb and say it's scarier to be your biggest critic for the rest of your life.
Self Compassion can be vulnerable and with that vulnerability comes a lot of really great [researched] benefits.
So, today i encourage you to ask yourself "what purpose does my inner critic have and is it bringing me closer to the life I want to live or is it bringing me further away?"
If this question feels confusing for you, I would take it a step further and explore "Would i want a loved one (child, spouse, friend) motivating themselves with criticism or motivating themselves with compassion?"
Ultimately, You deserve a life full of joy, meaning and yes...even kindness.
Hanna Kuyper is passionate about helping women heal their relationship with food, body and find joy in life. Hanna previously served as a Board Member of Body Revolution, a non profit dedicated to raising funds and advocating for those with eating disorders. In 2015, Hanna opened iamwell, a community dedicated to helping women create a healthy relationship with food and their bodies Additionally, she created and ran women's groups that focused on body image, self compassion and intuitive eating. Hanna has also worked in school programs mentoring adolescent girls and teaching them about positive body image. Hanna has a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in eating disorders and body image. Hanna writes for Thrive Global on healing your relationship with food, body and finding joy in life. Currently Hanna is working towards her license as a marriage and family therapist.
Hanna Kuyper is a wife, a mom and a lover of all things outdoors. She has owned a women only wellness studio, sat on the board of a non profit dedicated to eating disorder and body image awareness and has volunteered as a mentor for girls in school. Hanna has a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in eating disorders and body image. She is a currently a virtual body image and recovery coach at The Eating Disorder Center.