I crashed and burned yesterday. I had a total mental meltdown so I listened to audio books all day. I hate non-productive days but I have self compassion and allow myself one meltdown day. Day 2 is up and at them days. I make a list of little things to achieve and check them off. I love checking off a to do list as I am returning to sanity.
If you’re constantly judging and criticizing yourself for something you can’t control, you’re going to feel weak, worthless, and eventually, hopeless.
The solution is to learn to observe your emotions and notice them without passing judgment on them.
Good scientists know that before you start creating theories and running experiments, it’s important to carefully observe things. Similarly, before you rush to start punishing yourself for how you feel, try observing it instead.
The best way to get started with this is to practice labeling your emotions with simple, plain language. Anytime you feel upset, instead of avoiding the feeling or glossing over it with vague language like “I’m stressed” or “I’m overwhelmed,” try describing how you feel like a six-year-old would:
- I’m sad.
- I’m angry.
- I feel afraid.
- I feel guilty.
- I’m getting irritated.
- I’m lonely.
- I feel proud of myself.
When you get in the habit of describing your emotions in plain, ordinary language — instead of intellectualizing them — you’ll find yourself being less and less judgmental of them. And, bit by bit, you’ll become a little better at self-compassion.
2. The criticizer, the criticized, and the compassionate observer
This exercise by Kristin Neff is inspired on the two-chair dialogue.
You will sit in three different chairs — arranged in a triangle form — each representing a different perspective. Refocus your thoughts and feelings on being supportive and caring of yourself.
Identify an issue. Start at the ‘self-critic’ chair and express out loud your thoughts and feelings. Move to the ‘criticized’ chair — empathize with how your inner-critic makes you feel. Conduct a dialogue between the two trying to integrate both perspectives.
Lastly, take the ‘compassionate observer’ and try to make sense of the overall situation as if you were observing someone else. What does your ‘compassionate-self’ say to the ‘critic,’ what insight does it have?
Reflect on the learning. Check out the in-depth version here.