Co-existing in my mind are both a bully and a friend. And it can depend on the day or hour which one takes up more of the real estate there.
My bully can be loud, latching onto a negative thought I have about myself, repeating it, amplifying it. But after becoming aware of just how much power I was giving that bully, I’ve worked instead on nurturing the friend.
We can quiet the bully.
Rick Carson, author of the classic mindset book, Taming Your Gremlin, says our bully, inner critic, or gremlin is the source of our negative thoughts and wants us to accept his interpretation as reality.
“Your gremlin wants you to believe he has your best interest at heart and that his primary purpose is to serve and protect you,” Carson says. But his true intent is to make you miserable.
One’s first step to taming the gremlin then, is to observe him as something separate from oneself. And in turn, we come to recognize that the gremlin has no real hold on us.
Our inherent negativity bias causes our minds to latch onto negative messages more strongly than positive ones. And if we don’t release those negative thoughts, the bully seizes his opportunity. But thoughts are just thoughts, and noticing them as they come and go can be a key to releasing many of the negative ones.
Self-Compassion Quiets the Bully
The next time you hear your bully judging and criticizing, ask yourself if you’d talk to a friend that way. Chances are you wouldn’t.
So what would it be like to talk to yourself the way you’d talk to a friend? That’s part of self-compassion.
“Self-compassion is a way of relating to ourselves kindly, embracing ourselves as we are, flaws and all,” says Kristin Neff, one of the world’s experts on the subject.
We can notice our pain and shortcomings, and be kind and understanding with ourselves. It’s the human condition to make mistakes, become frustrated, fall short of your goals.
“The more you open your heart to this reality instead of constantly fighting against it, the more you will be able to feel compassion for yourself and all your fellow humans in the experience of life,” explains Neff.
She offers guided meditations and exercises on her website that foster self-compassion.
But self-compassion doesn’t mean complacency, or letting ourselves off the hook. It spurs us to accept responsibility and correct our mistakes – with kindness.
“You may try to change in ways that allow you to be more healthy and happy, but this is done because you care about yourself, not because you are worthless or unacceptable as you are,” she explains. “Perhaps most importantly, having compassion for yourself means that you honor and accept your humanness.”
Welcome! I’m Amy, an integrative health coach, offering grace and space for a healthier you. I approach health and well-being from a whole-person perspective – mind, body, and spirit. If you liked this article, you might like one I wrote previously that declared that You Are Awesome. And you’re invited to subscribe at this link to receive my updates. Thank you for visiting.