Self Critical or Self Compassionate?

Last week I overheard two women talking in Target, “oh…I’m so stupid” one said to the other, “I can’t believe I forgot to make the cupcakes for her party, again.”

I smiled as I pushed my cart past them, but I was wondering how calling herself stupid would affect her.

I’ve come to believe that how you talk to yourself changes how you see yourself. And, when you tell yourself that you’re stupid, a part of you will believe it. This belief will also affect how you feel, how you react to others and what you think others think about you.

For example, you forgot the cupcakes so you remind yourself how stupid you are. Now you’re embarrassed, so you create reasons to avoid the cupcake parties. And, by not going you feel isolated from your friends.

So, do you belittle yourself for making a mistake or do you acknowledge your mistake, reflect on how you can do better next time, then cut yourself some slack?

Believe me, I know how to be self critical. When I was trying to remember all I’d forgotten after my accident, I belittled myself at every turn, mostly about things I couldn’t change.

My six year-old selfThen one day, when I was looking through some old pictures, I came across my first grade picture.

Tears welled up in my eyes as I wondered how the six year-old girl in me had managed to grow up under the weight of all my critical remarks.

In that moment, while I looked at this picture, I vowed to stop criticizing and instead have compassion for myself.

I know it’s not always easy to hold back on the negative assessments of yourself, especially at a time when we believe we need to be perfect to make it.

I don’t know about you, but being around someone who believes that they’re  perfect is…well draining.

I think the challenge is to just let yourself be real – you can start by thinking about the child inside yourself – the one who might thrive with a compassionate friend…you.