Want to stop being so self-critical? Here’s how!

Want to stop being so self-critical? Here’s how!

Do you say things to yourself you'd NEVER say to your best friend? 

Are you overly critical of minor faults and less attentive to strengths and successes? 

Do you think this is good for your happiness?

If you're like most people, the answers to these questions will almsot certainly be yes, yes and NO! 

But here's some good news. In this great article from Fulfillment Daily Emma Seppala outlines how you can conquer self-criticism and enjoy more happiness. So if that sounds interesting to you, then read on…

Are you highly self-critical? Do you beat yourself up over failures? Do you work too much and push too hard without giving yourself time to breathe or relax? Do you feel the need to compete, outperform others, and move ahead of the pack in order to succeed? Do you live with shame, self-criticism and sometimes a sense of just not being good enough? We live in a society that regularly sends us the message to achieve more, work harder, win, be perfect, surpass, be the best. There is of course absolutely nothing wrong with having goals and dreams to pursue. However, most of us don’t stop to consider whether our self-critical and competitive attitude is actually helping us achieve our goals and dreams or whether it might actually be standing in our way. New research suggests self-compassion may be a far superior alternative.

Self-Criticism: A Self-Defeating Tendency

Kristin Neff, associate professor at the University of Texas and pioneer of research on self-compassion (and Fulfillment Daily author!), has shown that when our self-worth depends on out-competing others, we actually become more insecure and anxious: if we fail, we become highly self-critical, adding to our misery. Faced with criticism, we become defensive and feel crushed. We give up in the face of challenge. Moreover, competition fosters disconnection: rather than building social connection which research shows is essential to well-being, we view others as obstacles to overcome and we ultimately feel more separate from others. The primary goal of our desire for success is to be successful, to belong, and to be loved yet ironically self-criticism and competition end up having the reverse effect.

Self-Compassion: A Healthy Alternative that Reaps Results

Where self-criticism leaves us powerless and distraught, self-compassion is at the root of empowerment, learning, and inner strength. With self-compassion, we value yourself not because we’ve judged ourselves positively and others negatively but because we are intrinsically deserving of care and concern just like everyone else. Self-compassion means treating ourselves as we would a friend. Rather than berating, judging, or adding to a friend’s despair, we listen with empathy and understanding, encourage them to remember that mistakes are normal, and validate their emotions without adding fuel to the fire. Neff defines self-compassion as “being kind and understanding toward oneself in instances of pain or failure rather than being harshly self-critical; perceiving one’s experiences as part of the larger human experience rather than seeing them as isolating; and holding painful thoughts and feelings in mindful awareness rather than over-identifying with them.” (See The Three Elements of Self-Compassion, below).

Self-critical over-achievers are not the only ones that lack self-compassion. Some of the kindest people do as well. Neff’s work confirms this observation:  There is no correlation between the trait of self-compassion and feelings of compassion towards others. Many people, women in particular, are far more compassionate and kinder towards others than to themselves. Fortunately, self-compassion can be learned. It is a practice that can help us all become less self-critical and, by preventing the stress and turmoil thereof, allow us to be happier, more successful, and of greater service to others…

…there's so much more goodness in the full & original article which you can read (but only if you want more happiness) HERE