5. This week's exercises: compassionate inner dialogue
Self-criticism is often related to a real cause, such as the need to do well in studies. You can reach the same goals with the help of compassionate and by encouraging inner dialogue. These exercises strengthen your compassionate inner dialogue.
It is good to stop and listen to your self-criticism so you can recognise it. Maybe the self-critical voice is scolding you for not reaching all of your study goals. You may think ‘I am not smart enough’, ‘everyone else did better than me’ or ‘why didn’t I prepare better’. Maybe your criticism awakes when you don’t have the time to do all you want, or you make unhealthy choices or you have trouble in your personal relationships. Your self-critical voice is often quite mean, although its purpose is to encourage us to do better. Often relentless self-criticism raises a fear of failure in us and makes us avoid challenges.
You can try to train a more compassionate voice alongside your self-critical voice. Maybe you can think about how you would speak to a good friend who has faced similar failures or difficulties. Maybe you would say to him or her: ‘It was a difficult situation and you tried your best’, or ‘everyone fails sometimes’. A friendly voice often encourages us and give us more courage to take on future challenges.
Exercise by Kristin Neff: Exploring Self-Compassion through Writing