The only thing worse than聽feeling crummy聽is feeling crummy聽about聽feeling crummy. We鈥檝e all been there 鈥 angry with an S.O. after a fight that started over something admittedly silly (those dishes in the sink are聽so聽annoying, though), then saddled with an extra layer of frustration because we hate feeling like a nag. Or feeling sad because a聽bestie has less time to hang after starting a new romantic relationship, and then mad at ourselves for being needy. These kinds of self-judgments force us to double down on feelings that are straight up聽badto begin with.

If you鈥檝e been the victim of your聽own聽judgments about your聽own聽emotions, you鈥檙e not imagining how terrible it feels. Clinical psychologist Michael Alcee explains that this is a real thing. 鈥淐ensoring or judging ourselves for our feelings adds another heavier layer of emotions 鈥 usually guilt, shame, and anxiety 鈥 on top [of the existing feelings],鈥 he says. 鈥淧icture how much heavier a pile of snow gets when it is weighted down with the slush of snowmelt. Put another way, it is like a heavier tangle and jumble of emotions that can make it even harder to get to know the original feelings themselves.鈥

With that in mind, we鈥檝e looked to a group of experts for their advice on how to better cope with our own self-judgments so that we鈥檙e only feeling聽one聽bad thing at a time (baby steps). Keep scrolling for all their compassionate, loving advice 鈥 because that鈥檚 just the kind you need.

woman smiling at home

1. Get comfortable with your emotions.聽First thing鈥檚 first 鈥 you and your feelings don鈥檛 need to be sworn enemies. Before you can start to truly overcome that nasty second layer of self-judgment, you need to wrap your head around the inevitability of emotions. You鈥檙e only human. 鈥淥ur emotions are a part of who we are,鈥 leadership and executive coach Mark J. Reuter tells us. 鈥淪top trying to judge, fight, or ignore them, and instead make friends with them鈥 even the bad ones! Often, if we can just notice and accept our emotions, they can teach us about who we are and how to move forward in a positive way.鈥

2. Look at the situation as an outsider.聽If you find yourself in a constant state of self-judgment, we understand how the first tip might seem impossible to tackle. Life and wellness coach聽Megan Nicola聽suggests taking a broad view of what you鈥檙e feeling and trying to observe yourself from the third person. Ask yourself why you鈥檙e feeling the way you鈥檙e feeling. Taking this kind of investigative approach to your emotions might make it easier to reflect on your mental state without adding extra angst.

3. Practice mindfulness.聽Mindfulness is about more than just meditation (although we鈥檙e very pro-meditation). It can also be just the tool you need to have a healthier relationship with your own feelings. 鈥淢indful living is awareness in the present moment without judgment, clinging to what the moment should be, or trying to change it,鈥 says licensed clinical social worker and addictions specialist聽Lauren Moser Vilar. 鈥淭his means that we begin to separate observations from judgments.鈥 When you begin to feel an emotion, try to pinpoint what the emotion is immediately. You might not be able to聽change聽it, but you聽can聽learn to identify it and be less reactive.

4. Realize that your feelings exist for a reason.聽Cut yourself some slack! Your feelings exist because you actually聽need聽to feel something. 鈥淓liciting feelings as a reaction to events is literally how the mind works, and it鈥檚 nothing to feel bad about!鈥 author and natural lifestyle expert Jaya Jaya Myra says. 鈥淚t means you are a human being that is functioning like a person should.鈥 Working聽through聽negative feelings means you鈥檒l be able to release them from your system so they don鈥檛 make you sick.

5. Be the friend you wish you had.聽Therapist聽Kristina Zufall聽says that she prompts her clients who are prone to judging their own emotions to ask themselves what they would say to a friend who was experiencing similar feelings. 鈥淲hen we give the kind words we would give to a friend to our own selves, we normalize having the emotional response!鈥 Zufall tells us.

6. Take an inventory of the toxic people in your life.聽Being weighed down by toxic people isn鈥檛 super helpful under any circumstances, and if you find yourself聽consumed by an emotional inner critic, it may be time to take stock of whether or not the people around you are making it easier or more difficult for you to feel good about yourself and your feelings. Per integrative therapist聽Dr. Karin Luise, toxic people tend to perpetuate negative self-judgments and to give those pesky self-sabotaging narratives more life than they deserve. Maybe it鈥檚 time to kick those people to the curb!

7. Add a new thought to the mix.聽This one might sound simple 鈥 and is most definitely easier said than done 鈥 but don鈥檛 underestimate the power of simply distracting yourself from the negative emotions that are dragging you down with a new line of thinking. 鈥淲hen you find yourself getting upset with yourself for being human, simply disrupt the thought with a new [one], like 鈥業鈥檓 just having a human moment鈥 or 鈥業鈥檓 allowed to feel how I feel鈥 and move into compassion for yourself,鈥 says life coach and meditation guru聽Brandyce Stephenson. 鈥淵ou can even layer on a positive affirmation and say, 鈥楨ven though I had that negative thought, I am a good person and it鈥檚 okay.'鈥

8. Don鈥檛 let thoughts turn into action.聽Negative feelings take on additional power when you let them turn into action, so play damage control by doing your best to contain them. If, for example, you鈥檙e angry, licensed clinical social worker聽Katie Bogacki聽recommends that you 鈥渟it with the anger and then journal or meditate on it鈥 instead of jumping into action mode with a nasty text message, which will only perpetuate the problem at hand and lead to聽additional聽self-judgment that you don鈥檛 need or deserve.

9. Drop the word 鈥渟hould鈥澛爁rom your vocabulary.聽鈥淪hould鈥 is a dirty, dirty word 鈥 especially when you start using it to set specific expectations about how you should be responding or聽reacting to situations and feelings. 鈥淚f you find yourself saying that you聽should聽be something other than what you are, notice where you are emotionally and where you聽feel聽like you are supposed to be,鈥澛PleaseNotes聽founder and positive affirmations guru Cheryl Sutherland says. 鈥淏y taking the time to acknowledge and respect the way you feel, you will be able to move through the upset with greater ease.鈥

10. Figure out how to channel your emotions differently.聽Stop that self-judgment in its tracks by finding a better, more productive way to manage those feelings as you start to experience them. Life coach聽Sue Hawkes聽recommends physical exercise, which is a great way to channel negative emotions into something that鈥檚 actually healthy for you.

11. Pay attention to the physical sensations that come with your emotions.聽The earlier on in the emotional process you can catch on to your negative feels, the easier it will be to redirect your thoughts or use any of the other aforementioned strategies to minimize your own judgment about them. Tune in with yourself by learning to identify rising emotions according to physical cues. 鈥淧ay attention to the physical sensations that accompany the emotion you鈥檙e feeling,鈥 licensed psychotherapist Eliza Boquin says. 鈥淲hat鈥檚 happening in your body? Is your heart racing? Breath shallow? Just notice it.鈥 Picking up on these patterns will help you check in with yourself more quickly in the future so you can more effectively stop judgments before they take over.

How do you get yourself to stop judging your own emotions? Tweet us @BritandCo.

(Photo via Getty)