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5 Strategies for Self-Compassion

By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.
Associate Editor

5 Strategies for Self-CompassionMany of us are all too used to bashing ourselves. And it’s not surprising. In our society, we’re taught that being hard on ourselves and ashamed of everything from our actions to our looks gets results.

Self-criticism is the preferred path to success. We rarely think about showing ourselves kindness. Or even if we do, we worry that doing so is selfish, complacent or arrogant.

But research has found that self-criticism only sabotages us and produces a variety of negative consequences. For instance, according to Kristin Neff, Ph.D., associate professor in human development at the University of Texas at Austin, studies have shown that self-criticism can lead to lowered self-esteem, anxiety and depression.

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5 Strategies for Self-Compassion

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  1. Another nicely done article that introduces some really helpful techniques. I do think that cognitively, anyone can grasp the ideas – but agree with Neff that a therapist can help with letting go of the self-criticism ( often really self- abuse) and becoming a concerned/kind “parent” figure. With a therapist helping, you get to practice in a safe place, and get positive, supportive feedback on your attempts to change ( otherwise you can end in the particularly frustrating paradox of criticizing yourself for not being able to let go of criticizing yourself.) Since the self-criticism is learned, but often has become a defense – if you are criticize yourself what can anyone else say? – It really is key to have a neutral person to coach and guide you.
    I will be forever thankful to one therapist who worked with me on techniques to change this self-sabotage. It was one of the most useful things I learned in therapy. Repeating myself a bit – it isn’t that i didn’t KNOW already that this ( calling myself names, for instance) was not helping — I did; but I needed to be in a place where someone would encourage me – even insist that I – practice new techniques(In brief which included relaxation, guided imagery). It goes along with the need to transcend thinking and engage the body and probably right brain in short-circuiting the near automatic inner Rex Reed.

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