One of the topics that crops up in therapy sessions is self-kindness, and in particular the quality of our self-talk. Are we speaking to ourselves with kindness and compassion or are we full of self-judgement?
If you observe another human being suffering you will most likely experience compassion for them and feel moved by their pain. You will respond with care and kindness and the desire to help. Having compassion means understanding others when they make mistakes or are having a difficult time, rather than jumping to harsh judgement of their actions.
Whilst we often offer such compassion to others without hesitation, we tend to judge and criticize ourselves for the same shortcomings and imperfections. We may be berating ourselves for something that we’re not achieving, or beating ourselves up for the way that we’re thinking and feeling. We may be telling ourselves that we’re not capable enough, or we don’t deserve the things we want, or we’re not good enough.
Why is self-kindness important?
Being kind to yourself is part of valuing yourself and is essential to counteracting stress. Self-judgement, on the other hand, is one of the main causes of stress. Frustration, anger, anxiety, depression often have roots in our own self-judgements and self-destructive thoughts. For many people experiencing anxiety there is nothing actually happening that is triggering the anxiety other than their own self-critical thoughts.
Science has shown that our thoughts have a physical effect on our body. They directly influence our breathing rate, heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, temperature, even how much our hands sweat. When you experience the effects of self-judgement, such as thoughts that create the emotional states of anxiety, anger and frustration, you experience changes in your biochemistry and hormone levels. Stress levels go up and you may suffer from digestive problems such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or get migraines or skin complaints, among other physical symptoms. When we experience the effects of self-kindness, however, our levels of stress and negative emotion goes down.
Self-kindness means being gentle and understanding with yourself when you are confronted with challenging times or make mistakes. It includes speaking to yourself in a warm and nurturing way when encountering feelings of loss, inadequacy or failure. Compassion towards yourself also means accepting that you are only human, that flaws and imperfections are part of the shared human experience. It acknowledges the reality that no one is perfect, and neither are you.
Practising self-kindness takes patience and dedication. However, it is the only route to emotional equanimity. As we practise kindness instead of self-judgement, the stress regions of the brain shrink, like a muscle shrinks when we stop using it as much. The benefits are less anxiety, less inner conflict and greater peace of mind.
If you’re finding yourself immersed in self-judgement and would like some support towards positive change, hypnotherapy can help. This relaxing and enjoyable process helps you to let go of any unhelpful thoughts and limiting beliefs you may have about yourself and your life. Through hypnosis and the power of trance we work to create more useful and supportive ways of thinking, thereby reducing anxiety and strengthening self-acceptance, self-assurance and self-belief.
To find out more about hypnotherapy please call 07514 931 096 or email me using the contact form.