The Inner Critic - Part 2 - Self Compassion
Nic and Sarah's Video below on part two of the inner critic - what is self compassion and why do we need to learn it?
In our last talk; you taught me, how the inner critic, while it can be percieved as a negative part of our brain (due to its critical thinking), it is was actually form to keep us safe, and was key for our human survival.
But we need to learn how to manage the Inner Critic, and one of the strategies you mentioned was a concept called "self compassion".
Today, can you pull this apart for us; because self compassion to me is almost like a "buzz" word; and I find it, as do many of the beautiful women I work with, find it really hard to give to ourselves.
Sarah - Self Compassion is really hard to give ourselves. When words like self compassion go into pop culture, we lose the understanding of what it is. Just like what happened with the term "self care". It become a task thought about, without realising why it was important.
Self Compassion is not a behaviour we are born with. It is a skill we need to learn. Think about a baby, it knows its needs, but a baby doesn’t know how to be kind to itself.
The Centre of Clinical Excellence describes Compassion as “ an attitude that involves a certain set of feelings, thoughts, motives, desires, urges, and behaviours that can be directed towards any living thing”- So self compassion is the attitude we have towards ourselves.
Self compassion is skill that a lot of us haven’t been taught growing up. The behaviours that represented self-compassion may have been viewed as self-indulgent, lazy, or even selfish. However our ability to recognise, validate, and soothe ourselves is vital to balancing a healthy, engage, enjoyable life.
One example is the way we talk to ourselves.
Imagine walking with a child along a footpath when suddenly they trip over. How would you respond? Probably with concern and trying to comfort them. “Oh no, are you ok? I’m glad you didn’t get hurt, let’s dust you off, have a hug and I’ll hold your hand if you like.”
Now think about a time when you have stumbled or tripped. How did you speak to yourself? We tend to be far more critical, even nasty! “Oh you idiot! Why didn’t you watch where you were going?! Just get up and pretend nothing happened so nobody thinks you are clumsy!!”
Speaking to ourselves in this harsh, punitive way isn’t going to help activate our “Soothe System” which is what we need to feel safe and supported so we can grow and heal. Instead it’s going to tap into our Threat System, activating that Fight, Flight, Freeze, Fawn Survival response. Being nice to ourselves to ourself doesn’t protect us.
But if we stay in the threat system for too long; there are long term health effects. We weren’t designed to be in a threat state for so long
How can we implement Self Compassion?
1. Breathing: calms your central nervous system. It’s the only way to communicate to your body you are safe
2. The way we talk to ourselves. But know your brain is clever and it won't believe what it doesn’t know is true. Often a neutral statement can be used to help to create a new loop to the brain, which it will accept. Adding in words like "I can learn to” is an example of this
You can't failure with these statements
This can also be translated into language for learning body acceptance, for example instead of saying I love my legs vs we can say “I appreciate my legs, as they help me stand on this earth; drive my car; walk around the block”
Developing self compassion is a daily skill. It's a healthy skill to learn, as its key to our soothe system, which is where we have capacity to heal; engage with others; grow; have time and space to plan. We can not do these activities in the threat response.
Sarah Challinor - Principal Psychologist at SongBird Psychology
Nicole Barber - Accredited Practising Dietitian at Nicole Barber Dietetics