Why Should We Avoid Extreme Self-criticism?

Self-criticism is an aspect which most of us tend to engage in on a daily basis either intentionally or unintentionally. Being overly self-critical can destroy you emotionally and can also adversely affect other areas of your life such as your work place and interpersonal relationships which comprise your family, friends, a significant other etc. The way we perceive ourselves, feel about ourselves, and the amount of belief we have in our own capabilities is what matters the most. We often fail to realize how much our feelings towards ourselves contribute to who we are or what we will become eventually. We tend to let other people’s actions, negative situations or failures define us, almost to an extent that we become so self-critical of ourselves that we end up only focusing on what other people have to say about us rather than WHAT WE believe and how we feel about who we are. We may not even believe the things we’ve been told or have heard about ourselves but we fall into the trap of giving another individual(s) power over our emotions and actions. That is what we need to identify, gain insight into our who we are, and work on self-awareness as that is where the root cause of the problem lies.

Our self-esteem is hampered in several ways, a lot of which goes back to our childhood experiences which shaped us into the adults we became. However, it’s important to remember that healing and change is possible. Most of us believe that if we have experienced a negative event in our childhood, it will define us for the rest of our lives or if we experienced multiple failures, it automatically leads to a thought that, “oh, I am going to fail in my next attempt towards my goals as well.” This is what we call “negative automatic thought”, a thought which generates from our core beliefs (as to how we were treated as children) or are based primarily on the struggles and hardships that we’ve faced. We overlook the idea of self-compassion, and fail to give importance to the fact that just because we faced a lot of negativity in our childhood or failed to step into a place which could have brought us closer to our goals, it does not correlate with the idea that we are unworthy, incapable or unloved.

When some of us slip, have a moment of weakness, or face failure, we tend to be extremely hard on ourselves, blame ourselves and in most cases, hate ourselves for falling back into that cycle but self-compassion is not resenting yourself for the mistakes you made, for the genuine feelings you feel or the failures you faced. It is important to be aware of the idea that such situations do not make you weak or worthless – it just makes you human. It’s all about being a little kind to yourself. When you adopt such a perspective, it is likely to reduce the amount of pain you’re feeling and also helps avoid getting wrapped up in one’s own emotions which are probably not even as bad as we make it out to be. To give other people power over your life is undermining the power you have over your own life; you are consciously letting your surrounding environment and society convince you that you can’t achieve what you want to achieve but the question is, do you believe that? When you contemplate over this question, forget what people have or had to say about it. Think about it from a place in accordance to how you feel about yourself, away from other people’s criticisms and biases.

The truth is and what each of us needs to realize, is that when we do recognize our pain and suffering, we begin to act compassionately towards ourselves, in turn validating our emotions and experience. We are gentle to ourselves in times when we feel like we’re going to fall apart or when we face any failures. We step onto the path of positively relating to ourselves rather than negatively looking at ourselves. To be more self-aware is to be more accepting of oneself which leads to breaking the cycle of self-criticism once and for all.

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