“We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.”
~ Carl Jung
In my experience, harsh judgment has not been an effective strategy for producing anything other than pain.
When we get caught in the downward spiral of self-criticism, we quickly lose touch with our power and resourcefulness. We collapse into smaller versions of ourselves.
Repetitive thoughts about how we are not good enough can be convincing. That doesn’t mean they’re true.
We all make mistakes. We all fall short of our ideals. Vulnerability is not an optional experience.
What really matters is how we respond to our mistakes, vulnerability & imperfections.
Do we get lost in criticism or blame? Hide our imperfections? Get defensive? Give up?
We know these strategies don’t lead to good outcomes, and yet they can be surprisingly seductive when in the midst of emotional pain.
When we can face our mistakes and shortcomings with honesty, humility & kindness, our inner critic loses its power over us. We regain our strength, learn the lesson at hand, and become wiser and stronger because of it.
Kindness gives us the power to transform harsh criticism into compassionate discernment. In my book, that’s kind of like a super power.
So why is it so difficult to just be nice to ourselves?
Most of us have spent decades letting our inner critics run the show. Treating ourselves with kindness is a skill that has to be cultivated. It might feel awkward or ineffective at first. With practice, it gets easier and becomes a more natural way of being.
The inner critic never completely disappears, but we can strengthen our ability to tend to to our pain with compassion and care rather than judgment and denial.
The next time you find yourself in the vortex of self-criticism, try consciously stepping out of the harshness and cultivating kindness. Do something nice for yourself. Practice nourishing rather than numbing.
The kinder we are to ourselves, the more we have to give to the world.
What practices help you shift from harshness to kindness?