Last time I shared the first 3 steps to loving yourself. They were:
1 – Be aware of your inner critic
2 – Accept that you have an inner critic
3 – Practice self-compassion

You can read more about these steps here.

Did you take some time to practice and play with these first 3 steps?

Have you become more aware of when your inner critic gets louder or quieter?

Did it get a little easier to show yourself and your inner critic some self-compassion?

Let’s dive into the next step to loving yourself – which is to gently acknowledge your inner critic.

When you gently acknowledge the inner critic you can choose how to respond versus allowing your inner critic to take over your thoughts and ultimately how you feel about yourself. Acknowledging your inner critic doesn’t mean you are agreeing with what it is saying.

There are going to be times when your inner critic is louder than usual. When it feels like the same negative thoughts repeating over and over. Or they might be a quiet, low-level constant hum of negativity in the background. Somedays they will immediately trigger you into feeling negative about yourself.

Choosing how you respond as you gently acknowledge your inner critic is going to take time and practice. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Allow your inner critic thoughts to arise and quickly pass through you. This works best for the harsh thoughts you know are not true. You can choose to not give these negative, untrue thoughts any more energy. You are not ignoring the thoughts. You are consciously choosing not to give these negative thoughts any more of your energy. Without your focus or energy, they will not grow and you can release the hold they have on you. 
  • Have a conversation with your inner critic. Talk to your inner critic the way you would talk to a close friend that was sharing the same inner critic thoughts. You would empathize and help them see that their inner critic is telling them lies. Do the same for yourself.
  • Reframe your inner critic thoughts. This works best for the thoughts that are constant, either at a low-level hum or what feels like a loudspeaker in your head. Here are some examples of what this may look like:

Inner critic: “You shouldn’t have said that. You sounded dumb.”
Reframe: “Maybe that wasn’t the best way to say that. I will do better next time. It is okay.”

Inner critic: “Ugh! Why did you eat too much! Now you are going to feel crappy. Why didn’t you stop yourself!”
Reframe: “It’s okay. I am proud of myself for being aware of how I feel after I eat certain foods and amounts of food. Next time I can choose to eat less or different foods.

Inner critic: “Why do you keep procrastinating. Just do it already. Stop looking at your phone!”
Reframe: “It’s okay. Do I need a break? Is it something that needs to be done right now? Is there something else on my mind that needs attention?”

Remember to continue to come back to self-compassion as you practice acknowledging your inner critic. You may find that sometimes it feels too difficult to let go of thoughts or to reframe them. That is okay. Return to being compassionate with yourself and come back to celebrate that you are aware of your inner critic, which is a win! Many people live their lives unconsciously allowing their inner critic to run the show.

The next step is to define what loving yourself means to YOU – not what it means to your sister, friend, spouse, partner, neighbor, etc.

If you have a hard time coming up with anything or if it feels too uncomfortable to think about loving yourself right away – begin with ways you could show yourself you like yourself and work up to loving yourself.

Start by making a list of all the ways it would feel good to show yourself you love/like yourself. Set a timer for 10 minutes and complete a brain dump of what loving yourself means to you. What would it look like? What would you do differently? Include anything you are currently doing.

Don’t overthink it or discard any thoughts that come up because you immediately think of the reasons why you can’t complete them – such as, lack of time, money, or you think they sound silly, unrealistic, etc. No one else has to see this list. Allow yourself to write down anything that comes up.

Once the timer goes off, set your list aside. After a couple of days review your list and add anything else that comes up.

The last step is to practice loving yourself. Start by choosing one thing off of your list that you can implement right away. Something that does not seem out of reach, but would feel like you are loving yourself if you completed it. If your inner critic starts talking to you, judging you – gently acknowledge it and then choose how you would like to respond. Does it feel best to allow the thoughts to pass, to have a conversation with them, or reframe them?

Now choose how often you will implement another item from your list. I recommend at least weekly, but find what feels the most realistic to you.

Let’s review all 6 steps:
1 – Be aware of your inner critic
2 – Accept that you have an inner critic
3 – Practice self-compassion
4 – Gently acknowledge your inner critic
5 – Define what loving yourself means to YOU
6 – Practice loving yourself

Remember these steps are not linear and there’s no timeline for completing them. It is a process of practicing each step, letting go of getting it “right” or “perfect,” and celebrating your wins – big and small along the way.

I use the word “practice,” because let’s face it there are going to be times when you are feeling good and loving yourself and then something happens and all of the sudden your inner critic is trying to run the show again.

It’s okay. It’s normal. It means you are human. Our inner critic is a part of us that has been hurt in the past and has built protective walls to try and prevent us from being hurt again. However, now you have tools that will help you come back to loving yourself.

Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself.” – Saint Francis de Sales