Have you ever stopped to consider how you treat yourself compared to your loved ones? So often we are harsh on ourselves for our downfalls and yet we treat those we love with kindness and understanding, while not allowing ourselves the same grace. Self-compassion allows us to treat ourselves how we treat others, and protects our mental health and overall wellbeing.
But how can we change these deeply ingrained habits of negative self-talk? One interesting take is by improving our self-compassion through alternative perspective-taking. This means that we take a step back from ourselves and see things from another’s point of view. This allows for greater psychological flexibility which means we can improve our awareness of what influences us, and always move towards that which brings us happiness.
This study used different perspective-taking exercises such as being asked what negative self-talk they had at that current moment, and asking participants to first consider how they would feel about their younger self giving their current self this negative feedback, and then asked how they would feel if someone they trusted told them this same negative talk. There was an overall decrease in emotional discomfort and an increase in self-compassion in those who were asked to perform these exercises.
This study shows us that talking to ourselves as we would a loved one is difficult but can reap great rewards. Talking negatively to oneself is usually not the best form of action and yet we all do it. Maybe next time you find yourself talking negatively about yourself, you might think to take a step back and treat yourself how you treat others, especially during these times where we often find ourselves only with our own company during lockdown!
Boland, L., Campbell, D., Fazekas, M., Kitagawa, W., MacIver, L., Rzeczkowska, K., & Gillanders, D. (2021). An experimental investigation of the effects of perspective-taking on emotional discomfort, cognitive fusion and self-compassion. Journal Of Contextual Behavioral Science, 20, 27-34. doi: 10.1016/j.jcbs.2021.02.004