We've been talking about thought patterns that we can engage in to feel happier. The sad thing is that a lot of the time we're not engaging in thought patterns that feel nice. We're engaging in thought patterns that feel downright mean. We're often engaging in thoughts that are really critical. We have these terrible inner critics. Sometimes when I talk to students about the thoughts that are going on in their head and they say the things that they're saying to themselves. To me, it feels like if you ever said those things to a friend, like you get kicked out of school or I like the way we talk to ourselves is incredibly, incredibly mean. That mean talk is your inner critic and it's a thought pattern that we really need to deal with. But to see your inner critic and action, we're going to do a little bit of audience participation, so we can see examples of the negative self-talk that we use with ourselves and that's going to help us fight it in the future. Audience participation time, I want you to imagine, of course, none of this would ever happen to you, but imagine that you get a much worst grade on your next test than you thought, you get the test back it's much worse than you thought. What are the things that you're saying to yourself? Just yelling them out, audience participation. I am stupid. I am stupid Failure. I'm a total failure. I'm letting people down. I'm letting people down, my parents are going to kill me, my teacher is going to hate me, I can't tell my friends, they're going to think I'm stupid. You're lazy. You're lazy, there's value judgments. What about your future college and stuff? What are you saying? You suck. You suck. You never going to get into college. You never going to get into college. These are all the things. You know what happens. But this is helpful because we're going to go through the things you can notice to spot these inner critics and these are the traits that your inner critic has and it's helpful to spot it. The first is that it's overly critical. You suck, you're a loser, none of it was like you tried, you study hard, it's been a tough time, we're in the middle of COVID. It's just critical, critical. It only focuses on the negative. None of the things were even a little bit positive in there, it's just like extremely negative. It tends to have this catastrophizing. It's bigger than everything. I'm never going to get into college. My parents are going to hate me. I'm going to let my friends down. It's bigger than it really should be. It also minimizes the good stuff. Maybe you did bad on that, but you did well in your athletic performance or you helped a friend who really needed it that week, you're not even noticing the good stuff, is just gone. It's about you. I suck. I'm a loser, I'm lazy. It's really personalized. It also, does a lot of mind-reading often, and this is predicting how other people are going to feel. I'm letting people down. My mom's going to hate me. My friends are going to think I'm stupid. You don't know what these, you can't read minds or you don't know what they're thinking, but you're doing that mind-reading. It's very black and white. It's very either or I failed or I'm great. I'm going to get into college or I'm not. There's no shades of gray thinking in there at all. Your fortune telling, you're predicting the future, what's going to happen with what your parents think in college? You're doing this fast-forwarding that you shouldn't do. It's really emotional. All of those words like suck, shame. It's like they're visceral. When you hear those, you feel bad, it feels something when you have this negative self-talk. There's all this self-talk that's about what you should be doing. I joke with my ELL students that you're shooting all over yourself, hahaha, are shooting all over yourself? But it's like I should've studied more, I shouldn't be so lazy, I should have done better. There's a lot of moralizing in there. That's your inner critic. That's it. It raises a question, none of this feels good. We just talked about the emotions that come with these are terrible. Why did we do this? I think we do this, we beat ourselves up this badly because we mistakenly think it's an effective thing to do, we think if we don't talk to ourselves this way, we'd never get anything done. This fits with what I often call the drill instructor theory of motivation. We think that we are these terrible cadets and our brain is like if I just scream at you enough, then you will get your acting gear and you will study and you will get into a good college, we think this. Then we're doing academic stuff, but this could be any kind of thing you're screaming yourself. I think we think it works. But there is an empirical question. Does it actually work? The evidence suggests it absolutely doesn't. All of these inner critical things that we engage within ourselves wind up making us perform worse if only because they make us feel negatively bad and we know when we're in a negative emotional state, we're not going to feel better. It raises the question like how can we fight these things. That's why we have this list because we can go through one-by-one and fight them in our head. You'll have that thought automatically, but then you can fight it. You hear like, you're a loser, you suck, fight overly critical part, you say, I got one bad test score, people can get a bad test score and it doesn't mean they're terrible person. If your best friend get a bad test score you be like you're a loser, you will never going to get in college, you'd say, we can accept this and move on. Try to switch actively to the positive. What are some good things that are in there? Good traits that you have. When you hear yourself catastrophizing, I'm never going to get into college, just switch to this one word possibly. I'll possibly never get to college, this will positively affect my GPA. You can even, it's joking, but you see how quickly it softens just with that one word. Try to explicitly focus on the good and when you're dealing with the personalization, I suck, I I, depersonalize it a little bit like this has been a hard semester. Sophomore year is really tricky. The teacher didn't really teach super awesomely this section, there are other people and other factors involved, you can remove it from yourself. Anytime you hear yourself mind reading, you just go to the strategy of remembering you're not a mind reader. I can't say what my mom's going to think. I can't say what my teachers are going to think. I can't read minds. Whenever you notice you're in like the full black and white bring in a shade of gray. It's like the possibly like maybe it's not going to work that way. When you realize your fortune telling, just like explicitly building the phrase to your brain, I don't know the future. Oh my gosh, I'm not going to get into college wait. I don't know if future, what's going to happen, I don't know what's going to happen in the next test. I don't know. When you experience the emotions. This is a spot where you can mindfully accept some of those emotions. Notice, like when I say that to myself, I feel a lot of shame and just notice what that feels like. I have to keep fueling the fire, but I'm going to notice it feels bad. When you notice the thing where you're shooting all over yourself. You can say I could have studied a little bit more. I could have slept better before this one. It's not like you definitely had to do it and you moralize it. It's like a thing that you could think about for the future. You notice how I'm just switching those things, which are all things you can put in your brain when those words start happening. How it softens the blow of some of this stuff. It's a really powerful technique, but even more effective strategy for fighting your inner critic is to adopt a wholly different style than the drill instructor mode. It's a style of engaging in what we might call self-compassion. We're going to define self-compassion as this attitude toward yourself that treats herself with kindness. It shouldn't be so foreign as a concept, but it's really foreign as a concept. It's allowing yourself to understand that you can go through difficult times. That's just what it means to be human and you're going to make mistakes. That is okay. It's not the end of the world. Psychologist Kristin Neff at the University of Texas, Austin, who studies self-compassion in detail, tells us that we should think about having self-compassion in three distinct parts and there're parts that should seem familiar from stuff we've talked about in the class already. One is a sense of mindfulness. You should notice how your self-talk feels like, oh, I'm feeling shame or I'm feeling guilt or I'm feeling sad. You need to know where you're at to know what you need to be kind to yourself. A second thing that we need to engage in when we're engaging in self-compassion is a sense of self kindness. You should just be nice to yourself, treat yourself like you treat a best friend. This means you're not going to be self-indulgent because if your best friend was doing something, they were there being really indulge it, you might tell them you wouldn't be like, you're stupid jerk, you're losing. You'd like, you'd tell them about the indulgence in a nice way, but you wouldn't let them rest on their laurels. You'd push them slightly, but you'd push them in a kind way that self kindness. Finally, the third part is that we need to recognize we're just human. We need to engage our common humanity. Sometimes bad stuff happens. You're going to be human, you're going to make mistakes too, and that's okay. Kristin Neff has found that this act of engaging in self-compassion can allow us to feel a little bit happier, also can make us more productive. She's also found that there are ways to pay a tangent and self-compassion. In fact, she came up with this cool skill that we can use to pay attention to whether or not we're feeling self-compassionate. I'll give you just a couple examples of the things on her scale so you can get a sense. It'd be questions like, I try to be loving to myself whenever I'm in emotional pain on a scale of I almost never do that. I almost always do that. Or ones that might be reverse-scored. When I'm feeling down, I tend to obsess about everything and fixate on what's wrong. That's the opposite. If you almost always do that, you're not being very self-compassionate. It's questions like this. She gives subjects these scales in a different study. She finds that being more self-compassionate on that scale is correlated with overall being happier and having higher subjective well-being. It's also correlated with having lower levels of things like depression and anxiety. It's helpful for reducing really clinical aspects of mental health issues. It's correlated with not having a fear of failure. Because if you know you're not going to beat yourself up really badly every time you mess up, you can actually push yourself a little bit more. The irony is that the nicer you are to yourself, the more you're actually going to push yourself, the better you're going to do, the more persistent you're going to be over time. We've just seen this self-compassion can make us happier, but it has all these benefits beyond making us happier. One is that there's evidence that self-compassion can improve your academic performance like literally the opposite of the drill instructor mode. Why? Because academic performance doing well requires messing up sometimes. If you mess up and do badly and you beat yourself up and you hate yourself and your mean, you're not going to try harder later. The evidence suggests if you engage with self-compassion, you end up being more persistent. You push yourself when you're down because you're like, not that beat up. You're not like additionally beat up after the bad grade or the bad test score. You can push yourself a little bit more because you, yourself are going to be nicer to yourself. But there's also evidence that it helps us interpersonally. In fact, if you want to do something to improve your romantic relationships, your sibling relationships, one of the best things you can do is focus on self-compassion. Why? If you can be compassionate with yourself, lose a person we're meanest to, you can be compassionate more with the people around you and the people that you care about. In addition, there's evidence that self-compassion can even help us in the worst of situations. In fact, there's evidence that self-compassion can reduce things like PTSD in populations like military individuals who are in war. There's evidence that Kristin Neff has done these interventions where she teaches Iraq veterans and Afghanistan veterans to be a little bit more self-compassionate. What she finds is that they're less likely to suffer from things like post-traumatic stress disorder. Even if you're going through a really traumatic time, you can help yourself by not additionally beating your own self up. That sounds like self-compassion is great. It raises the question of, how can we be a little bit more self-compassionate? Again, we have our psych pro tips to help us. But one of the nicest ways you can improve your self-compassion is to commit to using kind words with yourself, to talk to yourself, like you would talk to your best friend. Again, you're not going to be self-indulgent. You're going to hold yourself to a high standard, but you're going to do it in a nice way. Every time you hear that self-talk, think would I tell my best friend that? If you wouldn't like, commit to talking to yourself in a different way. But there's another way we can engage in self-compassion, which can be good even if our thoughts are a little short-circuited, we can engage with a behavior that's very nice to ourselves. That's through the act of self touch. If you had a younger sibling or a good friend who was going through something, you might like, hold their hand or stroke and say it's going to be okay. You'd give a form of touch that was very compassionate. But the key is that your brain doesn't know who is touching you. If you do this act of doing this nice touch on yourself, your brain thinks it's another person and it accepts that kind of kindness. You can hack your own brain system and give yourself self-compassion through self touch. Literally giving yourself a hug. It looks so cheesy and I know it sounds stupid, but your brain doesn't know. It feels like a hug from someone else or this stroking like where you're like, I'm just being nice to myself. Again, sounds really cheesy. But your brain is just like, oh, there's a friend there that's like taking care of me. That's what your brain experiences. You can do this even better if you pair this with thought patterns that mirror those three parts of self-compassion. Mindfulness, this is really hard right now. I am struggling. I am feeling really emotional. I'm at my wit's end. That's mindfully recognizing what's happening, acknowledging. Then trying not to be like perfect. Acknowledging your common humanity stress is a part of life. I'm only human. This is normal. This is what happens in high school. I'm not alone. Then engaging in this self kindness. Like just literally say, I'm going to be kind to myself right now. What can I take off my plate? Think of ways you could do nice things for yourself. What would you advise a friend? Think of how you can do that. Evidence. Again, this sounds so cheesy, but like cheesy sometimes works. The evidence suggests that in this case, it really can improve your overall well-being, your happiness, reduce depression, but it can also improve your academic performance. Engaging in fighting your inner critic, taking on a little bit more self-compassion, they're ways that we can fight our thoughts to feel better.