I can be kind of brutal.

What about you?

I was listening to the Ten Percent Happier podcast this morning. Host Dan Harris interviewed meditation teacher, author, and musician Ofosu Jones-Quartey about self-compassion.

I particularly appreciated the techniques Ofosu provided for ways to be more compassionate with ourselves. I could hear my mental dialogue seeing them on my coaching techniques go-to list while my heart was saying, “No, wait, hang up a sec, oooohhh… I do not do this; that’s new. Cool!” It has encouraged me to share some of the techniques I use with you all. I highly recommend listening to Dan’s interview for what Ofosu shares too.

Our mean mental dialogue is insidious in its attempt to quietly whisper its undermining BS in our ear. It’s not obvious and doesn’t speak loud like your partially deaf great aunt. It’s a subtle, nuanced, and almost, very-nearly, not-quite-there proding of your confidence that you can barely hear. It weakens your defences. We don’t actively listen out for our inner negative voice.

Here are a few common things my bitchy brain has said to me recently:

“You can’t blame the current economic state of affairs; it’s your fault your family is in such difficult circumstances right now. You’re holding the family back. They’re suffering because of you.”

“You’re selfish to pursue your goals; you need to sacrifice more.”

“You’re scrolling YouTube Shorts again; stop being lazy; you should be {insert absolutely any other activity}.”

And so on and so forth—on and on with the shame, guilt, and judgement.

In the practice of improving our emotional intelligence, self-compassion falls into a few categories in the EQ-i 2.0 model: self-regard, emotional self-awareness, emotional expression, empathy, and reality testing.

Using the above comments, you can see that my inner dialogue wasn’t respecting me or considering my strengths or areas of improvement (self-regard). It wasn’t illustrating an understanding of the underlying emotions (emotional self-awareness) or expressing them compassionately (emotional expression) or with empathy. And, importantly, it wasn’t being objective to the reality of my circumstances (reality testing).

Being in a casual role has been great because it has provided me with the space and grace to heal from my last employer’s bullying. It’s enabled me to be home with my young children. And yet, it’s also meant sacrificing the comfort and security of a full-time salary. It’s been made harder by there being fewer hours available to work. It has amplified the stress and, yes, also made my inner bitch much more vocal about the urgent need for full-time employment.

It doesn’t matter that I know a lot about emotional intelligence. It doesn’t even matter how much I know. Emotional intelligence is not like intellectual intelligence; it’s contextual and situational. How you use your emotional intelligence constantly changes, depending on external factors. Intellectual intelligence remains the same.

How bright your IQ star shines doesn’t change all that much over the course of your life. Yet, your EQ can take a total nose dive in one situation in the morning and be a haloed angel in a different situation in the evening. This is why EQ is both a science and a practice; we humans are beautiful in our complexity.

The same goes with my self-compassion. Depending on my emotional state of being, I can manage the inner bitch with compassion, kindness, and understanding that she needs. I can recognise her feelings of fear, scarcity, and exhaustion, and I can employ my coaching techniques to help her. And then there are other days when I just cannot shut her up and do not have the strength to try.

Here are a few of my coaching techniques that I use:

Technique 1: Perspective-taking

When you read the above list of things my inner bitch said to me, what response did you want to give me? Certainly, you would not have agreed with my comments. Likely, you would’ve been telling me to be kinder to myself. With your empathy skills in use, I can also imagine you feeling into my experience to understand what it was like and being sympathetic to the challenges.

By imagining what you would say, I am using a perspective-taking approach.

Perspective-taking is not just taking the visual point of view of another person. To be more compassionate to yourself, it includes taking the emotional and mental point of view of another as well.

When you are thinking negative or unhelpful thoughts, take the perspective of another to respond or reframe the comment back to yourself. You wouldn’t want your friend or your child speaking to themselves in this way, so what would you say to them to encourage them to think differently? Do this for yourself.

Technique 2: Is it true? What proof do you have?

This technique strengthens your reality-testing skills by asking you to be objective about what you’re thinking and to seek evidence for the negative comment. Prove that the comment is true or not true.

Let’s look at the comment I made: “You’re selfish to pursue your goals; you need to sacrifice more.”

To prove it I have to ask myself questions that challenge the assertions. What proof of selfishness do I have? Who said that the pursuit of goals is selfish? Why does their opinion matter? Does anyone else think this is true? What more could you sacrifice? What are you not sacrificing that you could give up? Why would you need to give up that thing? What is the cost of giving up more?

It helps with this technique to use journaling to write the comment down, list the questions, and freely write the answers to analyse it for evidence.

Now, the flip side of this technique is what you do if some of the negative self-appraisal is actually true. Sure, it’s not okay that you delivered this truth to yourself in an unkind way, but the truth still needs you to take ownership.

Reach out to a trusted person (or me) if you need help with that process. Dealing with our truest truths isn’t something we ought to attempt on our own—mainly because we’re experts at lying to ourselves and not holding ourselves accountable to our highest wellbeing.

Technique 3: Call BS

It’s short, sharp, and to the point, much like the real-life me. I call bullshit on my thoughts. It sounds simple because it is. As soon as you’ve taken stock of your negative self-appraisal, call BS.

That’s what I did for the YouTube Shorts thought I had. Here’s how the retaliation dialogue went:

“Seriously, I’m thumbing through short videos while the kiddos are in the bath. It’s a brain-break. What could I possibly do to be more productive in those 30 minutes? Sure. Probably a few things, but so what? Sometimes, a mumma’s got to stop. Just stop. Stop doing. Stop planning. Stop remembering. Stop adding things to the invisible labour list. And, most importantly, stop thinking.”

And that shut the inner bitch right up.

What will be your go-to technique for being kinder to yourself?

Do you have a technique to teach me?

Your coach,