Curb Your Inner Critic Over the Holidays with Self-Compassion

When we’re caught up in the rush to create the perfect holiday experience, showing ourselves a little self-compassion actually helps us show up for others.

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‘Tis the season for self-judgment! During the holidays, the comparing mind kicks into high gear as we measure ourselves against our friends, family, colleagues, as well as the “ghosts” of past and future visions of ourselves and find that we are coming up short. In Charles Dickens’ famous Christmas Carol, the stodgy and stingy Ebenezer Scrooge learns to embrace gratitude and attunement for those around him. How about we take a page from Dickens’ book and not only attune to others this holiday season, but do so toward ourselves as well.

As a clinician, I’ve been trained to spot and address the unhealthy mental habit of repetitive and negatively-toned inner chatter that broils in our minds and bodies from the inside. Rumination (or repetitive and passive thinking about negative emotions) has been shown to predict the chronic nature of depressive disorders as well as anxiety symptoms. Another study suggested that people with a ruminative style of reacting to their low moods were more likely to later show higher levels of depression symptoms. When we ruminate about our shortcomings and failings, we spend too much time in our heads instead of living…