Your brain is writing your story with or without you directing it. Whatever you are telling yourself equals the life you are creating.
What are you telling yourself? Are you good enough? Do you beat yourself up and think you should be better? When you fail, what do you make it mean?
Because we are human, we often experience shame. We take something we did or didn’t do and make it mean we aren’t good enough. We set a new goal and do good for a few days but then we fail. We beat ourselves up. We dwell on our shortcomings and failures and end up creating more negative actions because our brain is finding more evidence to prove this true. We are stuck in the shame cycle.
On the other end of the spectrum is the antidote for shame, self-compassion. People who are self-compassionate don’t beat themselves up. They figure out what can be learned from their mistakes. They don’t get mad at themselves when they don't meet their goals and they don’t criticize themselves because they are coming from a place of care. They can separate their behavior from themselves and know that they aren’t bad when they fail.
Here’s are 3 ways to get out of shame and move into self-compassion.
1. Flip the script to change your story.
It’s easy to get caught up in a cycle of unhelpful thinking patterns when life is stressful.
Using a technique borrowed from Byron Katie, here is a simple way you can challenge the negative thoughts that are making you feel not good enough:
Start by identifying what the negative or stressful thought is, then ask yourself the following questions about it:
Is this thought true?
Can I absolutely know that it’s true?
How do I feel when I believe this thought?
How would I feel if I didn’t have this thought?
Now, turn that original thought around and look for evidence to prove it true. You’ll be surprised at what you find and how you feel.
2. Write a letter to yourself.
Here are some prompts.
I’m so sorry for…
I just wanted to thank you for…
I’m so grateful to you for…
After writing the letter feel the compassion as it pours into you. Love, connection and acceptance are your birthright. To claim them you need only look within yourself. Reread this as often as needed.
3. Treat yourself like you would someone you care about.
When you are feeling stressed or upset, ask yourself what you would say to someone you really cared about. What would you naturally say if you wanted to help that person? And then do that for yourself.
“There are over 3000 studies showing that when we are more self compassionate we are stronger, more resilient, more motivated, more effective, less selfish, less likely to burn out, we have better well-being, we are happier, less depressed and on and on.” Dr. Kristin Neff
What would your life be like if every morning you thought, “No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough”. And every night before you go to bed you told yourself “Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn't change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.” - Brene Brown
Compassion is a commitment. All we have to do is choose to practice it. Make it apart of your story. You are worth it.
Have fun directing your story!