Discover a wonderful meditation for self criticism to help you to accept yourself and to stop being judgmental.
First, a question. Why are we humans so self critical? Why are we the first ones to comment on our own mistakes, and the last ones to shut up about them?
I remember one time when I was in university I got muddled up about the deadline of an assignment and, because of that, ended up having to repeat the same course the next year. Let me tell you, the entire of the following semester, every time I was in that class I was beating myself up in my head about missing the deadline. How could I be so stupid? Why was I so disorganized? And on and on. Can you relate?
Self criticism is a learned habit. Sometimes we learn it from listening to abusive parents or bullies. Sometimes we attempt to use self criticism as a way to motivate ourselves to do something, because goodness knows telling ourselves how crap we are is sure to help… right…?
Sadly, such self criticism is rarely beneficial. Indeed, it can lead to anxiety, depression and other issues. Hence why we need to change it. Thankfully, meditation can help us to stop self criticism. This is something I have seen both in myself from my own meditation practice, and also for many of the people whom I have taught to meditate.
There are many effective types of meditation for self criticism. For instance, Loving Kindness, in which we visualize giving and receiving compassion, can help to stop the self animosity. Similar to this are Karuna and Tonglen. And finally Vipassana, in which we observe and label our thoughts and feelings, can help to make our thoughts less disturbing. And also, Mindful CBT. With meditation we can cultivate awareness and self compassion, two qualities that empower us to change our self defeating ways.
So which is the best meditation for self criticism? Well, for me personally, I like to use the following one.
Meditation For Self Criticism
- Sit comfortably with good posture and (after you’ve read these instructions) close your eyes.
- We’ll do a little but of mindful breathing first, to calm and focus the mind. So, take a deep breath in through your nose to a count of four. Pause for four. Breathe out for four. Pause for four. Repeat.
- While you are doing this breathing pattern (“Box Breathing”) observe the sensation of your breath moving through your body.
- While observing your breath, remember that it is totally fine if your mind wanders from time to time. Just remember to gently guide your mind back to your breath.
- Now let’s get into our proper meditation for self criticism.
- Bring to mind one mistake that you have made in your life, something that bothers you a little bit. Remember that mistake.
- As you remember your mistake it is likely that your mind will create negative, self judgmental thoughts. When this happens, remind yourself “These are just thoughts. They are not real. They are not important”.
- Now consider the fact that you are human. Consider the challenges you face. Consider the difficulties that led you to make the mistake. You are aiming to understand that you made the mistake not because you’re stupid, not because you’re a bad person, just because you’re a human being with emotions, with challenges… aim to compassionately understand the human elements that led to your mistake.
- Now think about better ways you could have spoken to yourself after making your mistake. For instance, perhaps you could have said, “I was stressed and it affected my decision making” or “I had the best of intentions things simply didn’t work out how I wanted”. Think about better ways that you could speak to yourself, more accepting and compassionate ways.
- Return to focusing on your breath for a moment. Then, return to step four above and repeat with a different mistake.
Remember to be kind to yourself. Like The Dalai Lama once said, “No one in this world deserves your love and kindness more than you yourself do.”
Here are some helpful resources for reducing self criticism.
- Guided meditations galore on our Youtube Channel
- Guide to overcoming self criticism with cognitive behavioral therapy on CBTPsychology.com
- Gratitude Self Care Journal app to help you build positive thoughts, on Google Play
Giving Is Caring
Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations and is the author of four books on meditation. He has been featured in Psychology Today, Breathe Magazine, Healthline, Psych Central and Lion’s Roar.
Paul studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
Paul’s biggest inspirations include Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat Zinn, and Jack Kornfield.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison