Step 3 in getting your inner critic to tone things down is all about compassion. If you need a refresher on Step 1: Naming and Taming Your Inner Critic or Step 2: Interrupting Your Inner Critic, give them a read and then come back here for tips on using compassion to retrain your thoughts.
If you’re wondering how compassion helps with the judgmental thoughts that may be taking up too much of your brain space, it’s all about mindset. When you practice being kind to yourself and others; negative thoughts, self-criticism and judgment have less opportunity to intrude.
You can teach yourself to be more compassionate by building habits of kindness.
Practice empathy by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Or, if you are struggling with self-criticism, try to think of how you would speak to a friend or trusted colleague in a similar situation.
Go back to the skills from Interrupting Your Inner Critic. Work on being present by using mindfulness and breath to pause the judgements.
Listen generously when you find yourself slipping into judgment of someone else. Give them time to talk through their process to gain understanding.
Commit to radical self-care. Learn what restores you and make a habit of practicing it.
This is important work because of the potential harm of getting stuck in a pattern of judgment. When we are judgmental toward ourselves, self-doubt creeps in. We start to expect less and hold ourselves in lower regard. This prevents us from seeing the full spectrum of opportunities available to us. It narrows our view of possibility and keeps us from seeing things as they are. When self-judgment rather than compassion takes the lead, we limit ourselves.
If your inner critic is more outward looking — judging others rather than yourself, there are still risks to this mindset. A habit of being judgmental toward others can damage relationships and erode trust. In this frame of mind, we don’t allow other people to give their best because we fail to see their full capabilities. We are likely to be heavy handed in friendships and micromanaging in work settings.
I worked with a coaching client who was struggling with self-doubt and loss of passion for his work. He was getting tough feedback from his boss, who was known to be very demanding. After digging into his reasons for entering his field, he was able to reconnect with the impact he wants to have in his organization and community through his work. He was also able to see the contributions he has already made more clearly and began to manage his self-doubt. This helped him re-engage with his work and anticipate feedback and roadblocks. By developing self-compassion, my client was able to create separation between his satisfaction with his work and what his boss thinks. These small changes have had a positive impact on both his confidence and his relationships at work.
When we lead with compassion, we see possibilities for ourselves and others. We become more optimistic and operate with authentic kindness. As the staticky judgments in our mind subside, we become more grounded and centered in our actions and relationships.
TEDx: When to take a stand — and when to let it go, Ash Beckham
Six Habits of Highly Compassionate People, Greater Good Magazine
Self-Compassion Guided Practices and Exercises, Dr. Kristin Neff
Assessment: Are You a Compassionate Leader?, Harvard Business Review
This article was originally published on Medium.com.