Back in November, I attended the POD Network Conference (The Professional and Organizational Network in Higher Education). One of the sessions I attended was called “Strategies to Transform Self-Criticism into Self-Encouragement and Self-Compassion” with Rachel Goldsmith Turow, an adjunct faculty at Seattle University and at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and a clinical psychologist. I will admit that I did not deliberately choose this session because it seemed a little too personal and was listed under sessions called “interactive.” I was planning to attend a workshop across the and down the hall, but the door remained locked, so I was drawn to this room and just thought to myself oh well, I’m just going to do it.
And I’m glad I did. We were given a lot of information on the negative effects of self-criticism and the importance of compassion. The best part of the workshop was short bits of activities throughout the notes and research. In one activity, participants listed 10 things that had already gone well that day (the session was at 10:30 a.m.). The idea was that we had already had successes that day. I thought this might be a good, short activity to do with students who might be feeling like they are failing (and believe that’s bad) and are too self-critical.
In another activity, the Loving Kindness Meditation, we chose some words to repeat to ourselves. We did this in our own heads, but if one were alone, it could be done aloud. Someone suggested that even verses from the Bible or other inspirational books could be used. The following good wishes are what I said to myself:
May I be safe. May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I live with ease. May life be a little less stressful. May I get a break from anxiety. May I be more kind. May I be loved. May I love.
I never intended on going to this session, but I got a lot out of it, and I still want to learn more. My next steps are to explore some books recommended on her site and maybe even a book that Turow has written herself.