Cultivating Self-Kindness: A Game-Changer for Negative Self-Talk

Darren Stehle
3 min readOct 22, 2023

How to rewrite your self-talk: A 3-Step journey to cultivating self-compassion.

One happy family!

What’s wrong with me?

I don’t know why I can’t figure this out.

I might as well just give up now.

Have you ever found yourself entangled in a web of self-deprecating questions?

How did you respond? Did you notice that the more you criticized yourself, the darker your thoughts became?

It’s a familiar pattern. When negative thoughts about ourselves take hold, they tend to linger. When you’re trapped in a negative thinking spiral, the more you condemn yourself the more negative neuro-associations you create about yourself. And the more you speak negatively about yourself when you next face another difficult experience, your default becomes self-criticism.

But here’s the good news: You have the power to break free from this cycle by cultivating self-kindness.

I stumbled upon this transformative process in Rick Hanson’s book, “Just One Thing.” The next time you catch yourself in the grip of self-doubt or negative self-talk, notice what’s happening and use this process.

Try this simple 3-step self-reflection exercise:

Step 1: Reflect on what it means to be a good friend to someone you care about.

  • Think about the thoughts and feelings you have for that friend.

Step 2: Ask yourself, “Am I that kind of friend to myself?”

  • Please take a moment to recall how it feels to be with someone who genuinely cares about you.
  • Picture that person in your mind. How do they make you feel — accepted, cared for, and loved?
  • Name all the positive emotions that arise.

Step 3: Ask yourself, “What’s the best way for me to be on my own side?”

  • Looking at the photo at the top of this article, smiling at the camera with my partner, Christiaan and our dog, Scooby evokes visceral emotions of self-acceptance and love. It’s a powerful reminder that we can extend the same kindness to…

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Darren Stehle

Empowering change-makers in critical thinking: Align with your values, develop self-mastery, and contribute to an equitable & just society. DarrenStehle.com