This is where self-compassion or self-empathy can help
Imagine being able to accept yourself exactly as you are. Not only accepting yourself, but loving and honoring yourself – this is an important part of good mental health. Self-compassion can help you soothe your agitated mind, soften your heart and tame that negative inner voice. By understanding and dialoguing with the inner critic, we can replace it with a kinder, more gentle response. Based upon the work of Kristin Neff and principles of mindfulness, we can learn to challenge the inner critic and its conversations. When we are aware of those voices inside our head, and can recognize them for what they are, we are able to admit that they are not our truth. By meeting and greeting our inner critic, we are able to soothe and make peace with ourselves. You too can stop your negative and critical self-talk!
Many of us have never been taught to be compassionate towards ourselves. Our tendency is to judge ourselves (and others) and this is what we internalize as a sense of self. We are accustomed to a critical mind that is constantly evaluating danger and trying to keep us safe.
Self-compassion requires the right hemisphere of the brain (associated with creativity and the arts) to have a voice because the left hemisphere is incapable of experiencing empathy – but it is adept at criticism and judgement. So we need to listen to the whole of our being. Empathy and connection can be learned and practiced over time until it becomes second nature. That’s where Expressive Arts Therapy, counselling and Mindfulness comes in for improving self esteem.
Working with the arts allows the right hemisphere of the brain to strengthen its connections neurologically, and developing this part of the brain allows us to heighten our ability to be self-compassionate. At some level, we have to receive this gift first – it has to be modeled somewhere, and therapy is a great place to start.