Replacing Self-Criticism with Compassion
Everyone has an inner critic. The voice inside that says “you can’t do it” or “you’re not good enough.” For some, this voice is a whisper—just a nagging doubt in the back of the mind. For others, it’s stronger. It’s a constant voice that hurts confidence and eats at self-worth.
What’s your relationship like with your inner voice? Are you happy with it? Like any other relationship, this relationship can also be changed. Instead of tearing you down, this voice can help build you up. It can help you build your confidence, boost your self-worth and increase your overall happiness.
Is your inner voice a critic or a champion?
How can you transform your inner critic into your inner champion? The answer: metta meditation.
What Is Metta Meditation?
Metta meditation is “kindness meditation.” It’s any kind of meditation that encourages and develops compassion.
Most traditional types of metta meditation focus on developing compassion towards others. However, this same meditation can actually be turned inward—and be directed at your own inner voice.
Here’s the meditation. For self-critical people, it’s often easier to start by loving others rather than themselves—so that’s where this meditation starts.
- Start by doing one to two minutes of breathing meditation. Let yourself settle into the present moment.
- Now, picture someone you know and care about. Someone for whom it’s easy to feel love and compassion.
- Focus on that feeling of love and compassion. Look at this person in your mind and tell him or her: “I want you to be happy. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be at peace.” Repeat this for three to four minutes. Feel free to replace these specific well wishes with whatever works best for you. Let yourself fully embrace the experience of wishing the best for this person.
- Now, switch from imagining someone else to imagining yourself. Again, focus on your sense of love and compassion. See yourself in your mind and repeat the same wishes – ‘I want you to be happy. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be at peace.” Repeat for three to four minutes. Let yourself fully embrace the experience of wishing yourself the best.
- Finish with one minute of breathing meditation.
Note: You can also direct this meditation to specific parts of yourself. For example, “May my confidence be happy.” Or “the part of myself that cares what others think—may you be at peace. May you be happy. May you be safe.” etc.
This meditation can be a powerful tool for helping transform your inner critic into your inner champion. Starting by feeling compassion toward others is a great way to transition into feeling compassion for yourself.