One of the benefits of your mindfulness practice is that you will build an awareness of the negative self-talk that proliferates your mind. At first, this may not seem like a benefit. Who wants to hear that voice more clearly? That voice that’s telling you you’re and idiot, a phony, a horrible ______ (fill in the blank.) Wouldn’t be better if we just shoved it down…. stuffed that voice? That is usually our natural defense to this kind of self-talk. Unfortunately, shoving these messages may shape our behavior in undesirable ways.
When we allow those negative messages to surface, we are taking the first step in getting them to quiet down. We can then start replacing these negative messages with more positive self-talk. Like all mindfulness exercises, challenging your self-talk takes some effort, so let self-compassion be your best buddy and personal trainer with this exercise.
If you have the idea that self-compassion is somehow selfish, think again. How do you react to others when you are feeling calm and loving toward yourself, as opposed to feeling unsafe and threatened? Ultimately, self-compassion is an act of great loving-kindness to everyone you come in contact with.
Here’s today’s letting go exercise ~ Let go of negative self-talk:
1. Start with a few deep breaths, bring yourself back to the present moment by naming three of the prominent colors that are closest to you.
2. Sit for a moment and notice any negative self-talk that arises. Notice the bodily sensations that arise with these thoughts. Is there a sense of wanting to run away? Maybe a sense of wanting to crawl out of your skin? Maybe you feel overwhelmed and a sense of wanting to hide or cry. Breathe deeply and say to yourself “I am not alone in these thoughts, it is human to be self-critical at times.”
3. Drop the idea that self-compassion is somehow selfish. If you have the idea that self-compassion is somehow selfish, think again. How do you react to others when you are feeling calm and loving toward yourself, as opposed to feeling unsafe and threatened? Ultimately, self-compassion is an act of great loving-kindness to everyone you come in contact with.
4. Personify self-compassion. Self-compassion may be a friend that you haven’t met yet, or at least an acquaintance that you don’t know very well. Personalize self-compassion by imagining a loving, older and wiser brother or sister. This can be a totally made-up person, or he or she may have some qualities of someone who once showed you kindness.
5. Picture your personified self-compassion helping you to talk back to your negative thoughts. He or she might say, “it’s okay to make mistakes,” or “you are really trying your best.”
6. Let your next action come from a place of self-compassion. Let your growing self-compassionate voice guide you through all your actions today.
Take note of how you feel at the end of a day of focusing on self-compassion. Share with us any shifts in thought and action you experienced.
We wish you twenty minutes of mindfulness every day!
… And try this short practice on self-worth with Maria Sirois at Kripalu the Center for Yoga and Health