Have you ever given up on a goal because of self-criticism? It’s not just your brain that does this- it’s everyone’s. We think that improving ourselves or fixing what we are doing wrong will help us with this self-criticism, but our brain wants to escape the pain of self-criticism and will convince us to get rid of these goals that might cause more criticism.
Instead, self-compassion allows us to feel safe enough to achieve our goals by turning on the security and care-giving systems of the brain. Self-compassion extends the same compassion you feel towards friends or family but to yourself. The mindfulness of yoga practice can help work toward self-compassion instead of criticism.
When you’re not doing an activity, the brain reverts to a default state that thinks about the past and future, makes judgments, and compares and categorizes everything. The practice of yoga or meditation can temporarily take you out of this default state and into a more positive experiencing state, which, in turn, can help increase our self-compassion.
If you’d like more information on self-compassion and the brain, we recommend checking out the book The Neuroscience of Change by Kelly McGonigal, PhD.