I find the most useful and helpful pep talks are those that are motivational, inspirational, and self- compassionate.
Life is stressful and full of suffering, yet it is also full of potential for positive change in each and every moment. So, rather than listening to our ‘inner critic’ – which, although it is trying to serve and protect you, it can be cruel and clumsy and often adds to our suffering -think about what the ‘inner critic is really trying to say- what it really wants for you. Start by changing some of those pressure words such as ‘must’, ‘have to’, ‘should’, when you are looking into the future to plan ahead. Think about what will inspire you towards achieving your goals and managing challenging issues more effectively. For example you may wish to choose a phrase such as “ if I finish this piece of work I can use it fruitfully in many ways to benefit myself and others” rather than “I’ve got to finish this piece of work or else…”trailing off down a negative path of worst case scenarios which only create unnecessary suffering and despair- activating our ’threat system’ (read Paul Gilbert’s 2010 book “The Compassionate Mind for further information on how the emotional systems in our brain affect how we behave) , sapping intellectual energy and preventing us from thinking positively and creatively.
So, next time you’re giving yourself a hard time, take time to become fully present in the moment and as Kristin Neff and Chris Germer teach in their ‘Mindful Self-compassion training’ ask yourself “what do I need right now?” and you can trust the answer will be self-compassionate and useful, enabling you to think with more clarity about how you tackle your current dilemma or challenge.
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