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PodcastTurning Self-Criticism into Supportive Self-Talk, with Dr. Kristin Neff

Turning Self-Criticism into Supportive Self-Talk, with Dr. Kristin Neff

Self-compassion expert Dr. Kristin Neff is guest hosting this week on Radio Headspace. Today she explores overcoming harmful self-criticism, introducing tools for positive self-talk, and nurturing kindness towards oneself.

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(air whooshing) (mouse clicks) (gentle upbeat music) Headspace Studios. (soft music) Hi, everyone, I'm Dr. Kristin Neff. Welcome to Radio Headspace and a Tuesday. So today, we're gonna talk about where self-criticism comes from, the problems it causes for us, and how we can transform our self-critical voice into something kinder and more supportive. Most people are actually much more critical to themselves than they are self-compassionate. Not only that, they're actually more critical to themselves than they are to other people in their lives, even the people they don't like very much. We're often our own worst enemy. It's actually natural. First of all, there are a lot of cultural reasons why we're self-critical. We're told that it's good to be self-deprecating. You know, we don't wanna be too big for our britches, and we kind of internalize that to mean we should be cutting ourselves down all the time. But there are also some evolutionary reasons, which are actually really interesting. So when we feel threatened, which is, you know, when something's happening to us in our environment, or we feel threatened because we've made a mistake, or we've failed in some way, we go into threat defense mode, or sometimes called fight, flight or freeze mode. So we fight ourselves. In other words, we beat ourselves up. We, you know, say, "You should have done that better," and that actually helps us feel safe. Or we go into flee mode, which means we feel isolated. We hang our head in shame. And evolutionarily, we used to actually leave the group if we'd done something wrong as a way to feel safe, to kind of flee from the judgments of others, or else we freeze, we freeze and play dead. We get stuck, you know, over and over again. And in a way, that also helps us feel safe. It's like, "Well, maybe if I just don't move "or don't do anything, the problem will go away." So it's actually natural, self-criticism. And it's also more natural to be kind to others because the care response actually evolved to care for others, not so much for ourselves. We're designed by evolution to naturally care for our offspring and other group members, because that would help our group survive and we passed our genes down to other generations. And so, you know, when your friend, for instance, does something wrong or makes a mistake, you don't feel personally threatened, which is why it's easier to be kind to your friend and not so kind to yourself. So don't beat yourself up for beating yourself up. I mean, it's only natural. Unfortunately, however, it's not very effective. It's actually more effective to deal with those types of challenges with compassion as opposed to criticism. I first learned about self-compassion after my first marriage fell apart. And I had done some things that I wasn't very proud of, and I was just feeling a lot of shame. And I thought that beating...


Duration5 min

About your teachers

  • A former Buddhist monk, Andy has guided people in meditation and mindfulness for 20 years. In his mission to make these practices accessible to all, he co-created the Headspace app in 2010.

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  • Eve is a mindfulness teacher, overseeing Headspace’s meditation curriculum. She is passionate about sharing meditation to help others feel less stressed and experience more compassion in their lives.

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  • As a meditation teacher, Dora encourages others to live, breathe, and be with the fullness of their experiences. She loves meditation’s power to create community and bring clarity to people’s minds.

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  • Kessonga has been an acupuncturists, therapist, and meditation teacher, working to bring mindfulness to the diverse populations of the world.

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  • Rosie Acosta has studied yoga and mindfulness for more than 20 years and taught for over a decade. Rosie’s mission is to help others overcome adversity and experience radical love.

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