Critical Thinking (Not Thinking Critically)

Being fully aware of thoughts and noticing problematic patterns can easily spawn new toxic mentalities. We might imagine it was easier before we were self aware, that we prefer being oblivious. There is technique to be practiced in critical thinking— there are nuances to understanding ourselves and trained compassion.

My therapist gave me a phrase long ago that I eventually incorporated into a short story title, she said we must look within with ‘curiosity and compassion’. Why are we thinking this way? We can wonder without belittling ourselves or instilling shame where there must be kindness. This internal work is raw and vulnerable and though we may dislike what we find inside ourselves, we can only be productive if we are gentle to ourselves. Each time we react negatively to our negativity we become shut out by our protective systems. We can only delve deeper and heal what’s spawning this miasma by coaxing ourselves, trusting ourselves, being patient and understanding. 

When I’m practicing critical thinking I sometimes forget that critical doesn’t mean being a harsh critic, it means taking half a step back from our emotions. Compassion comes from critical thinking as in order to take that step back, we have to accept our emotions. 

We must extend love to ourselves.

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