Stop attacking yourself with self-criticism

There is no need to tear yourselves apart in an effort to be your best

Man critcising himself

If you are like many people, you try to understand why you do what you do. While this has the potential of being helpful, it can also be self-destructive.

Those who swear by the benefits of being self-critical often don’t realise the long-term negative effects of it. On the other hand, there are many who grow and even thrive on having a critical eye that’s focussed inward—but in a self-compassionate rather than self-critical way. The difference between these two kinds of people is in how they approach themselves and their performance.

How do you assess yourself?

For some people, introspection is a kind of self-autopsy in which they cut open their psyches and look for abnormalities. They inevitably find their flaws or weaknesses because everyone has them. Then they study these human failings under a microscope—and work tirelessly to get rid of them. Of course, this is a process that has no end and can be very demoralising.

Other people approach introspection in a gentler manner. They are curious and accepting as they consider their inner world and how it affects their performance in the outer world. As they endeavour to discern their inner selves more, they are empathetic rather than critical toward their own distress and failings. This compassion naturally motivates them to find their way out of their emotional pain or discomfort while also spurring them on to achieve their goals and to find happiness.

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Watch this video on compassionate self-awareness by Dr. Leslie Becker-Phelps

A version of this article was first published in the May 2015 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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