When you’re hungry, eat. When you’re tired, rest. When you criticize yourself, love yourself more.

Somewhere along the line, many of us, myself included, bought the belief that putting ourselves down leads to self-improvement. Or, that self-criticism keeps us in check, preventing us from becoming narcissists or getting isolated. Before you know it, self-criticism becomes a habit, emitting its foul vibes even on automatic pilot.

So, Here’s my holiday wish for you: The next time the self-critic rants, don’t go down the rabbit hole with it. Instead, use its appearance as a signal that your reservoir of love for yourself is nearing empty. Just as when you’re hungry, you use that as a signal to eat. When your car light indicates that you’re out of gas, you go get gas, right? So when the negative internal chatter starts up (I’m too old, too small, too big, too young, too lazy, too active, whatever), it’s just a signal that your self-love meter is closing in on empty.

Fill it up any way that brightens your spirit—such as noticing that you offer your level best each day, and it might not be perfect, but it’s real. Maybe filling up means you go for a walk, practice yoga, dance like nobody’s watching, make something delicious to share. The key is, whatever brightens your spirit, whatever feels loving, whatever fills your cup. Even simply saying to yourself, “I love you” can help.

This holiday season, give yourself the gift of truth: all self-criticism really is is a signal that it’s time to fill up with more self-love. Give self-love and give it freely.