Who are your best friends?

I have a fabulous set of friends, a terrific mix of characters of all ages, shapes and sizes – and all with different backgrounds and experiences. I love spending time with them and I strive to treat them as well as I would have them treat me. My friends are a powerful and supportive network. We champion one another and have a lot of fun in the process. All of this is important when times get tough and we can help each other out. Together we are a resilient bunch.

But there is one friend who sometimes undermines my resilience: Me! I'm talking about my inner critic, the one who beats me up when I have failed at something, the one who says "I'm so stupid! How could I be so dumb! I'm just not good enough." This type of recrimination causes only anxiety and worry; this inner critic drains my resilience and inhibits my positive actions. What kind of friend is she?

I have learned from experience and research that the antidote to such negativity is self-compassion. The trick is to be kind to yourself; refrain from judging yourself or comparing yourself with others. Simply accept who you are and build upon your strengths. On the face of it self-compassion might appear to be a lazy and selfish option but the fact is that people who are compassionate to themselves are able and more likely to be compassionate towards others. They are happier, healthier and more optimistic – all qualities that the resilient personality has in spades.  

To find out how self-compassionate you are here’s a link to Dr Kristin Neff’s (pioneering self-compassion researcher, author and teacher) questionnaire and for more info her book will tell you all you need to know about Self-Compassion (William Morrow, 2011)

And so I suggest that we play the role of a supportive friend to ourselves rather than a critical one.