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Soften Up on Yourself

Soften Up on Yourself

Most of us are so hard on ourselves! Harsh, angry, self-condemning thoughts pop into our heads at the slightest provocation, and we often push ourselves so ruthlessly. And when we hear about practicing more compassion for ourselves, we can sometimes turn that lovely concept into yet another occasion for self-bashing: ďOh, here I go, being hard on myself again! I really messed up!Ē

Here is a wise antidote to being so darned hard on ourselves. We intend to take it to heart. We hope you will, too!

Every part of us deserves gentle self-acceptance and compassion, especially the parts of us that we think need and deserve it least! Think of it this way: We would never talk to a friend the way we often talk to ourselves–we would be much more understanding and forgiving.

It can be helpful to imagine what we would say to a friend in a given situation, and then saying it to ourselves.

And here is a simple exercise to practice:

When you catch yourself being hard on yourself, do something different: Be gentle to yourself. Take a long, slow breath and relax your body. Relax your arms, shoulders, and chest. Then relax your face, soften your eyes. Realize that if youíre attacking yourself this hard, it canít be the real truth. If you are feeling regretful for some past action, remember that part of you must have had a very good reason for acting as you did. Imagine how you would respond to a friend who had done something similar. Notice any new feelings (possibly sadness) that come up when you are gentle to yourself. Write them down, if you wish.

Read more: Spirit, Guidance, Inspiration, Self-Help

Inspired by I Know Iím in There Somewhere, by Helene G. Brenner (Gotham Books, 2003).

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.

Go to the Source

I Know I'm In There Somewhere

A woman's guide to finding her inner voice and living a life of now


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11:01PM PDT on May 7, 2014

Thank you for info and reminders!

11:01PM PDT on May 7, 2014

Thank you for info and reminders!

11:00PM PDT on May 7, 2014

Thank you for info and reminders!

11:00PM PDT on May 7, 2014

Thank you for info and reminders!

10:59PM PDT on May 7, 2014

Thank you for info and reminders!

2:19PM PST on Dec 16, 2012

I am my mom's primary caregiver now, and I am my very own worst critic. I constantly have the self dialogue of not good enough, too heavy, etc...but this article helped me to realize that it's not doing me any good.

3:59PM PST on Nov 15, 2012


10:20PM PST on Feb 15, 2012

I have been struggling with this for a long time and I try very hard to make it easy on others and encourage them to be easy on themselves (I am a teacher, so I hope this helps!).

2:00AM PST on Feb 15, 2012

Thanks for this article.

12:09PM PDT on Jul 17, 2011

Thank you very much for this article. It is very interesting.

To myself i am hard, too. It is easier to say something good about an other person, but about me...
Maybe it has something to do how people grow up, who is around (parents, grandparents,... teachers and other) if these people had/have critics, and how much critics, how do they say them...

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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