The antidote for self-criticism is self appreciation. I used to believe it was self acceptance, yet sometimes acceptance can feel too much like resignation. Self appreciation on the other hand allows us to recognize what we value about ourselves.
There are times when I feel self criticism is beating down on me like the hot sun on a summer afternoon. It’s strong, relentless, and ultimately harmful to my naked skin, my naked heart, what is vulnerable in me. I need to find a way to embrace myself.
I can trace this tendency to my self critical father who in turn made us feel like nothing was good enough but at this point it doesn’t really matter. What is important is that I watch how it’s affecting my life and make a conscious shift in my habit thinking.
The next time you hear the voice of self criticism, just STOP, and refuse to listen to it. Instead, practice self appreciation. Try it right now: “I appreciate that I was patient today at work; I appreciate that I took time to notice and enjoy the trees around me; I appreciate that I took time to eat a healthy lunch and take care of myself.”
I am noticing two major habits that tear away at my daily life: comparison and self criticism. But, I am not just pushing them aside and hoping they will just disappear on their own. Instead, I am taking action with my awareness and stopping the habit actions before they devour my spirit.
The two practices are:
1. For comparison. Stop when the thought occurs. Take a breath in and feel it in your belly, or your chest. Bring the attention into your body with your breath. Then do a mental reminder of something you are grateful for: the healthy lunch you just had; the time and health to exercise; the warmth and comfort of your living room.
2. For self criticism: Stop when you notice it. Take a breath in and fill in the sentence: I appreciate myself for __________.
I have been trying these practices for the past week, and I am noticing a shift. But I know it takes times to build new habits, so little by little.