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Your internal monologue can be friendly, calm, and encouraging or critical and bullying.
It is possible to change your inner monologue. Fostering compassion on ourselves can benefit not only our individual health and happiness but also that of society.
Self-compassion is not merely being kind. Compassion is best understood as turning towards suffering and taking action to reduce it.
Self-compassion is the ability to stand back and question why you feel this way, and a commitment to engage with pain at its source.
Our complex cognitive system is able to imagine and anticipate the objective self, but is also inclined to dwell on negative thoughts such as "If only I'd..." and "I should have..."
Self-compassion is a trade-off with self-criticism. For some people, the balance between the two is so skewed that the inner critic controls who they are in the world.
Developing self-compassion is developing insight so you can see yourself, instead of be yourself.
Many of us have become used to avoiding uncomfortable emotions. The first step towards self-compassion is becoming aware of our inner world - what triggers the feeling of anger, disgust or shame, how we react to them, and the content and tone of our internal monologue.
Ground yourself during discovery with soothing rhythm breathing, muscle relaxation or mindfulness exercises.
Soothing rhythm breathing: With your shoulders back and chest open, slow and deepen your breath. The key is to maintain the smoothness of breath: Four or five seconds in, and the same out again.
Self-criticism is a dialogue between two aspects of yourself: the one side is attacking and angry, the other is receiving it and feeling upset and hurt.
Instead, imagine your inner dialogue as that of two strangers. As soon as you see it as external from you, you can see it more clearly.
Validate, acknowledge, and reassure yourself.
If you wouldn't say it to a friend, don't say it to yourself. We would seldom tell a friend 'it's not that bad', or 'look on the bright side.' We need to recognise within ourselves when we're hurting.
Speaking to yourself with warmth and kindness can feel like a verbal hug by triggering the physiological memory of feeling safe.
A friendly facial expression and upright and open posture can positively influence your mind.
Self-criticism is often underpinned by a fear of not being good enough, being dismissed or devalued, or seen as undesirable. This triggers our threat system and brings out the worst in our brains.
We also live in a society that is always judging and evaluating us. We are not taught how to deal with suffering.
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