TIP 1: Turn down the volume of that self-critical voice
We are usually much harder on ourselves than we would ever be with anyone else.
We berate ourselves in the hope of motivating ourselves to do better. But would you ever use these same cruel words to your child? If the answer is “no,” why not? And why is it okay for you to speak to yourself that way? Learning to turn down the volume of our self-critical voice begins with the practice of talking to ourselves a little more gently. Here are some examples:
|Critical Self-Talk||Compassionate Self-Talk|
|I’m useless. There are so many things I don’t know about raising a child.||This is normal. There is so much to know. Parenthood is a constant learning experience. No one has it all figured out.|
|I am fully responsible for my baby’s wellbeing. If something goes wrong with the pregnancy, it’ll all be my fault.||I can only be responsible for what is realistically within my control. Blaming myself for things outside of my control is not going to help.|
|I’m so pathetic for feeling overwhelmed about becoming a parent.||Being a parent is a lot of responsibility. It is likely that many expectant mothers also feel intimidated about becoming a parent. I will focus on what I can control rather than what I can’t.|
|Deep down I’m a bad person who shouldn’t be a role model to anyone.||I need to remember that while I have some weaknesses (and who doesn’t?). I also have a lot of good qualities. My baby will need a real, loving, and self-compassionate mom, not an imaginary perfect mom|
|I’m so stupid for making that mistake.||Everyone makes mistakes; what counts is what I take away from this experience. Making a mistake does not say anything about my intelligence.|
|I’m worthless. I don’t have the right to ask for help.||I have as much right to ask for help as the next person. Given the big changes that are happening in my life, this is a particularly good time to ask for help.|
Challenge yourself to “try on” compassionate self-talk
Intentionally speak to yourself compassionately to see whether this approach make a difference in how you think about yourself. Try it several times a day for at least two weeks. You may have been listening to your inner critic for a long time, even years. Maybe ever since you were a young child. It will take some time to adjust to the new ways of talking to yourself and for the more compassionate self-talk to feel familiar.
Supercharge the effect by acting as if you believe these thoughts!
How might you behave differently if you believed your compassionate self-talk? For example, if you believed that it’s okay not to know everything about parenting in order to be a good parent, would you spend less time reading parenting books and more time enjoying your pregnancy?