“In school we learn that mistakes are bad, and we are punished for making them. Yet, if you look at the way humans are designed to learn, we learn by making mistakes. We learn to walk by falling down. If we never fell down, we would never walk.”
– Robert Kiyosaki
- “Why did I do that?”
- “I’m so stupid!”
- “I should have known better!”
Maybe these are things you’ve said to yourself or heard friends say to themselves. Often these thoughts feel like truths and we punish ourselves accordingly; but these thoughts generally come from a part of ourselves that is feeling scared and vulnerable and may be an attempt to protect ourselves. While we tell ourselves that these thoughts help us to try harder, more commonly they erode our confidence and make us scared of taking chances and making mistakes; yet as the quote at the beginning says, mistakes are necessary for learning and growing.
So how to help soothe and transform these judging, scared parts so we have more room to learn and grow?
One way to start is to rephrase these thoughts using language such as A part of me…. E.g. A part of me is feeling anxious. This thought is not all you are, but simply one part of you.
Sit or lay down comfortably, place a hand on your stomach and take a few deep breaths so you can feel your stomach press into your hand. Let yourself settle. Think of a common judging thought you have towards yourself. (E.g. I’m so stupid!) Repeat it to yourself a few times. Take a moment to notice any changes to your body. Are you noticing any tension? Are there any thoughts or emotions that are coming to your attention? How familiar are these sensations? How comfortable are you staying with these sensations?
Now instead of letting this thought take over or trying to push away the thought, try rephrasing it. E.g. A part of me is feeling stupid.. Let your attention move back to your breathing as you repeat your rephrased thought to yourself. Again take a moment to notice any changes to your body. Are you noticing any variation in tension? Are there any thoughts or emotions that are coming to your attention?
Sometimes it can help to write down some of your more common thoughts and then rephrase them and read them back to yourself. Practicing self-compassion techniques can help to manage stress, anxiety, negative perfectionism, low self-esteem, and depression.