If a person lacks self- acceptance, he can’t live with himself; if he lacks self-criticism, others can’t live with him. -James Pike
Being a social creature, fellow human beings validate your existence. You want to be liked, accepted, and acknowledged by others. By nature, you are just and fair, aspiring to be good and do the right thing.
But here’s a catch. When you fail to live up to the hopes and expectations of other people, (or for that matter your own) you criticize yourself to the extent of abandoning self-acceptance. Say, you are critical of yourself because you didn’t act in a certain way on some occasion; or you are critical of yourself for NOT being as successful as you want to be. In these times, self-criticism comes naturally. Problem occurs when self-criticism turns into self-depreciation. You question your talent and knowledge, and become sceptical of every action, thought, and idea of yours.
While self-analysis is a healthy way to evaluate your own behavior and learn how to overcome your flaws, it often transforms into self-devaluation. Excessive self-criticism is a form of self-devaluation, where you ‘do the opposite of what makes you happy and healthy’. You ignore good things about yourself, which makes way for negative emotions. It makes you bitter because your work always falls short of what ‘you think’ it ought to be. Controlling your self-criticism means deciding what rules you want to follow and to what extent. This is a basic Human activity, everyone does this to some degree.
My professional career started three decades ago. During the course of this long journey, I went through all possible experiences, self-criticism is one among them. I learned and realized that it is helpful only to a healthy extent. By being overly self-critical, you do not focus on the behavior that caused the problem and what can be improved. Rather, you apply negative thoughts to your character and undermine your confidence in general.
Today’s world is in desperate need of Self-compassion. It is the paramount virtue for every individual. It means being kind to yourself and realizing your natural expressions. It’s not selfishness rather a way to self-sufficiency and an escape from the obsessive need for social validation.
Self-compassionate people boast self-acceptance and unique quality of forgiving themselves, knowing how to move on with life even after the biggest let-downs. They are able to see through the vicious cycle of negative emotions, escaping the dreadful outcomes associated with lack of self-love.
Self-compassion involves being aware of your own pain and suffering, and understanding that this is a hard, but normal human experience. Directing feelings of kindness and care towards yourself, and focusing your attention and energy on how you can alleviate our pain, is what constitutes self-compassion.
When you are self-compassionate, failures of past are approached with reasonings rather than with regrets. Being able to cultivate self-compassion can be a stand-alone approach that might address all your mental backlogs that hamper your growth. It is an attitude each individual needs to embed in his life for greater good of human race.