For many people criticizing themselves comes naturally. Being kind? Not so much. We’re much better at supporting someone else than ourselves --- especially if we’ve made a mistake, missed a deadline or said the wrong thing. But self-criticism only makes things worse. Studies have found a connection between self-criticism and low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. On the other hand, self-compassion is associated with greater well-being, including more effective coping and less depression and anxiety. According to researcher and professor Kristin Neff, who studies self-compassion at the University of Texas at Austin, self-compassion consists of three parts: self-kindness, which includes being nice to yourself rather than condemning yourself or letting your inner critic run wild; common humanity, the realization that you’re not alone in your struggles, because everyone struggles; and mindfulness, which involves noticing the present moment without judgment or criticism. So the next time you want to flog yourself, instead, extend some self-compassion. Ask yourself how you’d treat a friend who’s just experienced the same thing. What would you say? What would you not say? How would you support them?
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