Are you feeling the effects of compassion fatigue? Is work draining your energy?
Need some self-care strategies to recharge and replenish?
Join ADCET for our new bite-size podcast sessions.
These short podcast episodes are taken from our [email protected] session recordings with Debbie Hindle.
Our third episode Create an Inner Ally teaches you how to replace your inner critic with a wise and caring friend that’s both kinder and much more effective.
Watch the recording and download the presentation here.
INTRO – Hi everyone, welcome to the ADCET Podcast – supporting you – supporting students. We would like to acknowledge the aboriginal and Torres Strait islander peoples who are the traditional custodians of the lands on which this recording is taking place. This podcast is the third from our series of bite-size sessions [email protected] to help you recharge. This session – Create an inner ally teaches you how to replace your inner critic with a wise and caring friend that’s both kinder and much more effective. Make sure you check out our show notes for links to the session recording and presentation slides. Enjoy.
DEBBIE HINDLE: So what do we say to ourselves when we fail in some way, when we make mistakes, when we don't measure up to our own expectations, and often we have pretty high expectations of ourselves. So when we fall sort of those. So when we feel we are just not good enough in some way. So what do you say to yourself when those things occur? "You idiot" yep, we can call ourselves idiot, we can say we're stupid, why aren't I confident enough, why I aren't I this, I should know better at my age, I often hear myself saying at my age I should know better. Why haven't I got it together. Why aren't I enough in some ways. So often when we face these kind of situations we say mean and cruel things to ourselves that we actually wouldn't so to anybody else, we wouldn't say to our enemies, especially not anyone we care about. When I first came across this information, this material, it was a few years ago, I was also working from home then, so I just thought I'm going to test it out. So every time I heard myself say something inside in my mind I would say it out loud. I was working from home, so it didn't really matter. And then I would just go, I can't believe I just said that, why would I say something like that. So I did. It turns out I was saying lots of things like that and I'm not a mean person, but gee, I was really mean to myself. So why are we so mean to ourselves? And actually the research says that many of us believe that criticism and being harsh and being mean is the best or maybe the only way to motivate ourselves to do better, to pick ourselves up, to improve, to do what we need to get done, reach our expectations, so we believe that we need to be tough on ourselves to get through the tough times and get things done. Because after all, if we don't motivate ourselves by telling us how stupid we are or with a stern word or two, then who will? And we can think that actually being kind to ourselves or letting ourselves off the hook is a bit self‑indulgent, it could be weak, we might sink into self‑pity or it's just going to make us too soft and too lazy. So does it work. Does self‑criticism work? In fact the evidence suggests no, it doesn't. In fact it can often have the opposite effect, because what happens is we become afraid of our own self‑criticisms, and that means we avoid new challenges, we avoid taking on things and that's because our mind and bodies actually react the same way as if someone else says those things to us, so you can think if someone else calls us an idiot or stupid, or we should know better, at your age you should know better, why aren't you organised enough, why aren't you more can have department, why haven't you done this or that, we get that onslaught of criticism we become defensive so we put a lot of energy into defending ourselves or we go into that fight flight or fright mode of our stress response. So instead of trying to address the things we're too busy trying to run away or fight ourselves or defend ourselves from ourselves. So it can actually, research suggests that harsh criticism, all it does is actually make us feel more insecure, make us feel anxious, make us feel a bit depressed and less likely to take on new challenges because we're just too afraid of the self‑criticism that will come if we fail. It can actually also have a negative impact on our relationships and interactions with others and in fact when we are really harsh on ourselves we can tend to be harsher on others as well. So we think it's a good way of improving ourselves and coping with difficulties. And becoming more resilient. But it's actually not, it's the reverse. But when we treat ourselves ‑ when we treat others, we know that when we treat others with respect and caring the best of them usually comes out and much the same would happen if we treat ourselves with the same level of caring and kindness. Most of us are better friends to others than we are to ourselves. So what's the alternative. The alternative is self‑compassion and there's a whole lot of really great research on self‑compassion, it mainly comes from Kristin Neff and you'll get a link at the end of this PowerPoint. So self‑compassion reverses the pattern of treating ourselves like our own worst enemy instead we learn to treat ourselves like a good friend would or a wise mentor would. So instead of judging ourselves harshly and being over critical about our mistakes, failings, disappointments our not good enough moments we respond with kindness, encouragement, understanding empathy patience and gentleness and it can stop that catastrophizing, nothing is going to work out well, it's just like hey take a few breaths and think about this and maybe it's not as bad as what it was, all those things good friends would tell us or a wise mentor would tell us. There's lots and lots of evidence suggests it's a great way to avoid burnout, a good way to cope with stress and it's such a wellbeing and resilience booster. But self‑compassion isn't about telling yourself things that you don't believe or just telling yourself lots of positive things, positive affirmations, it's not about getting up in the morning and going you're the greatest, when it's like you're not really the greatest, who's the greatest. I don't believe that, I could look at myself in the mirror and be saying you liar, or saying you can get through anything, well there's some things I can't get through. Again we wouldn't want those kind of empty disgenuine claims from our friends so we don't want them from ourselves either so self‑compassion actually has three steps. The first step is really noticing when we are mean to ourselves. It's noticing those messages and the things we are saying to ourselves in a balanced way. We don't want to exaggerate them but we don't want to ignore them either, push them under the carpet and say I'm not mean to myself I don't say those things, or if you do go I'm going to ignore that one, it's not about ignoring it, or going I'm such an idiot for saying I'm an idiot. It's just noticing them gently and if you practice mindfulness it's noticing them in a mindful way without judgement without exaggeration, just noticing, I'm noticing that I'm saying that to myself, noticing that I'm calling myself an idiot, noticing I'm telling myself you stuffed up again, can't you get anything right. I'm noticing those messages. The second step of self‑compassion, and this is where self‑compassion differs from a kind of just patting yourself on the back or telling yourself you're the greatest, that self-love, self‑compassion is actually telling yourself it's human to muck up, make mistakes, sometimes get things a bit wrong, it's human to not live up to our expectations. What this does is rather than you feel isolated like I'm the only one who does it and often our criticisms can make us feel we are the only ones in the situation, I'm the only one who is disorganised, the only one who hasn't got confidence to do this, it's reminding us that other people also feel this way and if you're going through a really tough time you can start to use that, this is other people going through this and it really connects you rather than isolates you. So it's a great reminder, and then the third step is self‑compassion is showing yourself that kind of caring and unconditional acceptance. And saying to yourself what a close friend or mentor would give you and sometimes if you're going through a really tough time it's maybe putting your hand on your heart because we know that touch is a really soothing thing so if you are in a public place, sometimes I've just put one hand over my wrist or one hand in my elbow, so I get that reassurance, that really gentle reassurance. And I don't want you to go away and be mean to yourself because you feel you're not self self‑compassion enough either, this is something to try and get better and there will always be moments we can improve. So instead of mercilessly judging yourselves and criticising yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings self‑compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings. After all whoever said you were supposed to be perfect. It's a lovely quote from Kristin Neff. And there's Kristin Neff's website there, she's got a whole website on self‑compassion and a whole lot of things you can try to practice more self‑compassion and it is a practice, the more you do it the better you get and if people want to go definitely in a bit deeper Tara Brach has some meditations around the self-compassion ‑ she calls it the rain of self‑compassion.
We just wanted to thank you again for listening to our podcast. If you are loving our podcasts please subscribe to our channel so you can keep up to date with our latest episodes, we would also appreciate if you could leave us a review. If you are after more great content you can head over to our socials and website - www.adcet.edu.au. Our next bite sized session will be on Rethinking Stress. Given that it’s not stress itself but the way most of us think about stress that is harmful - do you need to rethink stress?