How is your well-being, my friend? Are you kind to yourself? Research suggests that people who are self-compassionate or kind to themselves experience many benefits (Neff, 2009; Allen & Leary, 2010; Zessin, Dickhauser, & Garbade, 2015). They have greater life satisfaction, less anxiety and depression, greater mindfulness, and more compassion for others. Individuals experiencing stress and challenge (i.e., infant and early childhood brain architects, K-12 teachers, and parents) exposed to self-compassion strategies demonstrate higher levels of well-being, such as optimism, positive affect, and personal initiative. When we practice self-compassion, we feel more confident and view ourselves more positively. Be kind to yourself to have increased motivation, improved productivity, better relationships, and better physical health.
But why is being kind to ourselves so hard? Do you find yourself being self-critical sometimes? That's okay, my friend. It's natural and healthy to experience a wide range of thoughts and feelings, including less pleasant ones like unhappiness, disappointment, or guilt. There are no right and wrong thoughts; some serve one well while others do not.
Are you worried that being kind to yourself is self-indulgent? That is a common concern, but research shows that being too self-compassionate will NOT undermine motivation. Instead, people who practice self-compassion tend to have the greater personal initiative to make needed changes and are likelier to take on new challenges (Zessin, Dickhauser, & Garbade, 2015).
Are you convinced yet?! Let’s go for it! Treating oneself kindly can look like taking time and space to give oneself a break emotionally. Or, it can look like mental acts of self-kindness, such as engaging in self-talk that is positive, encouraging, and forgiving (Allen & Leary, 2010). Learning to turn negative thinking into positive thinking takes time and practice as one creates a new habit. One positive self-talk exercise you can do to help increase your self-compassion is the practice of reframing your inner conversation or “quieting your inner critic.” This exercise should be repeated over several weeks to eventually form the blueprint for changing how one may relate to oneself long-term.
Learning to turn negative thinking into positive thinking takes time and practice; you are creating a new habit. One way to set yourself on a positive path is to practice "outside" of the moment. Then, the next time you have a negative thought, you will have a positive thought prepared and ready as a substitution. Following are some common self-critical phrases and sample positive statements or reframes. These include ideas shared by educators who have participated in our various professional developments and presentations. Use these as examples to support you in quieting your inner critic. Try brainstorming additional positive phrases, and/or reach out to us for even more examples. Try substituting these scripts to replace your negative or self-critical talk.
Sample Reframing for Positive Thinking Ideas
Use your friends! Brainstorm with a friend or colleague for additional practice. Create positive statements to replace the following: I don't know how. I'm too old, or I'm too young, and I'm not ready. Do you have any other examples of negative self-talk you want to create a reframe or positive script for? Lean on your friend to help you be kind to yourself. Practice self-compassion as one way to nurture your well-being. You just may feel more optimistic, motivated, and positive. Perhaps you will have improved productivity, better relationships, and improved physical health. Most importantly, by being self-compassionate, you will have a new friend, YOU!
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Author: Karin H. Spencer, EdD, NCPT
Thanks for visiting the Uplift Blog! I'm an educator, Pilates enthusiast (NCPT), reflective practitioner and Ironman triathlete. I love helping others discover their joy and confidence as movers. I support others in making lifestyle changes to improve health and well-being. As a life-long educator, I am especially committed to joining together with teachers to uplift each other.