Self-Compassion Over Self-Criticism


Betteena Marco

Practicing more self-compassion and less self-criticism into your life can make all the difference.

Mabel Ra, Editor

Cameka Smith once said, “You can be your own worst critic or your biggest supporter.”


When it comes to the dilemma between staying positive versus being negative, it can be easy to succumb to the pitfalls of negativity. A simple criticism of one’s fault might not seem harmful, but in actuality, these nitpickings have a serious impact on an individual, whether it be on a physical or a mental scale.


On a mental note, self-criticism “derails people’s social environments” (Psychology Today). Because it is a form of self derogation, excessive criticism can lead to lowering your self-worth, which brings up implications of not wanting to interact outside, not improving oneself, and not believing in one’s self potential.


On top of being mentally harmful, excessive self-criticism can take a severe toll on one’s physical health. According to Dr. Richard Davidson from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, self-criticism leads to “ruminative thoughts that interfere with our productivity, and it can impact our bodies by stimulating inflammatory mechanisms that lead to chronic illness and accelerate aging” (NY Times). Ultimately, although not immediately visible, constant negativity only brings about negative effects onto one’s body. With this in mind, it’s imperative to only fill one’s mindset with positivity so to encourage healthier lifestyles.


You might be wondering: Isn’t self-criticism a good way to motivate yourself to improve? Well, in some cases, it is. However, often times, self-criticism continues in a cycle, looping around constant attention on one criticism. This can lead to problems, because you are focusing all that attention into one criticism, which can then bring it out of proportion and make the criticism seem more real and problemic.


Jenna Weitzman (11) agrees with all the dissent surrounding self-criticism stating that “self-criticism should only exist on moderate scales. Otherwise, it can take a definite toll on one’s health and self confidence.”


To combat excessive self-criticism, researchers are encouraging more modes of self-compassion in daily lifestyles. To achieve this, they recommend these Three Steps to Self-Compassion.


  1. Focus your energy on something that makes you motivated, like a passion. This attention will bring positivity into your life, since you will be surrounding yourself with things that only put you in a favorable environment.
  2. “Meet your criticism with kindness” (NY Times). By pushing kind thoughts on top of negative ones, you are able to tell yourself that the positive things outweigh the negatives.
  3. Take the time to recognize how you feel when you self-criticize yourself versus when you release that self-criticism. You will notice that when you let go of your critiques, you will feel as if a weight has been lifted off of you! This is because self-criticism has the tendency to bring your self-esteem downwards.


In short, self-criticism should be used cautiously, as it is a dangerous habit to get into. Replacing negative thoughts with positivity can prove beneficial to one’s mental and physical health.