How to deal with the inner critic during the menopause
Did you ever think or tell yourself: ‘I am useless’, ‘I can’t get anything right’, ‘Anyone else would do a better job of this that I am doing’ or any other self-judgemental thoughts that would cross our minds on regular basis.
I don’t know about you but keeping the inner critic at bay when I have made a mistake or failed to achieve something that is important to me has been a challenge for me in the past. This has been particularly difficult during the perimenopausal years, when self-criticism has dramatically increased and became self-perpetuating before I learnt to tackle it.
Coming across Kristin Neff’s work on self-compassion @neffselfcompassion has been instrumental for me to learn ways to quiet down the inner bully. Kristin Neff talks about two types of self-compassion - Tender Acceptance and Fierce Compassion that fulfil different roles:
- the tender acceptance part of the compassion allows us to turn towards own suffering, see it and provide comfort
- the fierce part of compassion helps us look at ways to overcome the challenge that is causing us emotional/physical pain and suffering and then support us to do something about it.
By using this understanding, these days I am better at being tender and kind to myself but also being proactive in doing something about the challenges that cause me pain and discomfort.
While learning how to do these two types of self-compassion, I have developed a step-by-step framework that is based on an easy to remember acronym KIND POWER. The tender acceptance maps onto the KIND steps and Fierce compassion maps onto the POWER steps. So, what are the steps?
KIND – The Tender Acceptance steps:
- K – Key into the suffering – recognise and acknowledge what is the experience, emotionally and/or physically.
- I – Invite the emotion - allow the emotion to show itself up, to share its wisdom
- N – Notice and Nurture the pain – notice the suffering and provide comfort, validation, and reassurance.
- D – Delve-into the pain - explore the pain with curiosity; identify the thoughts, feelings, and sensations behind the pain.
POWER - The Fierce Compassion steps:
- P – Perspective - Asking what the perspective is, the context of this challenge that causes suffering and pain
- O – Outcomes - What are the outcomes I am seeking: what values do I stand for, what goals I want to achieve that are important to me
- W – Ways – What are the ways that I can think of to achieve my goals while I stay true to my values.
- E – Execute –What are the behaviours I need to display and actions I need to take? Move to putting into action one option identified above.
- R – Review – Ask myself: I on the right track to achieve what I set out to do? Am I staying true to my values? Do I need to review or fine tune my plan?
I found that sometimes, the tender acceptance type of self-compassion it’s all I need. At other times these two types of self-compassion need to come together, as only the tender compassion is not sufficient to help me find the resources I need to overcome the challenges that caused my suffering.
How do you deal with your inner critic? Have you noticed an increase in self-critical thinking while going through the menopausal transition? What are your thoughts about self-compassion?
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Content Disclaimer:The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this blog are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article. Menopause CBT Clinic® disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article.
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