Self-Criticism vs Self-Compassion

Self-compassion is one of the more difficult Thriving Tools to develop. We are wired to be hard on ourselves. We push our self to achieve and excel to be the best. This ramps up in kindergarten now. When young children leave their parents lap and enter kindergarten, which is the new first grade, they are compared, judged, and ranked against their peers. And they feel that pressure.

Today a child will feel the pressure to be reading before first grade. Despite all the fun books to read, the parents and teachers’ expectations to perform, to be ahead of the curve, will be subtly if not explicitly communicated. This will heighten the self-scrutiny that started to develop between 3 to 5 years old. It’s inevitable that we compare ourselves with others.

In Survival Mode, exemplified most in tribal times, we are assessing who is stronger, more daring and courageous? Who is the leader and where do I rank? These comparisons are part of our heritage to belong and know our place in the tribe. This self-scrutiny continues today even when our lives are no longer dependent upon it.

Survival Mode uses self-criticism, pressure, and disappointment to motivate oneself. Thriving Mode orients around Self-Compassion as a motivating force. We learn to replace self-criticism with a complete acceptance of who we are in that moment. If we slip into Survival Mode and are harsh with someone, we come back to Thriving Mode with thinking, “OF COURSE, I was harsh, that is part of Survival Mode. I am learning to recognize and manage that. Go apologize to the person and increase meditations to a full 20 minutes per day. I deserve that.”

We can enter Self-Compassion with “OF COURSE, that happened.” It isn’t an excuse that lets us off the hook. That would be avoidance, a form of Survival Mode. When thriving, we kindly and respectively acknowledge “this is where I am in the moment AND how can I use that situation for personal development.” Self-Compassion provides the support, acceptance, and nurturance to feel our value and worth exactly where we are in the moment and the encouragement to continue learning and evolving.

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Doug J Moore, Ph.D.

Doug J Moore, Ph.D. is a psychologist, life-coach, & spiritual teacher. He explores the ways we balance and integrate our heart, mind, body and energy. He blends traditional psychological methods with the practice of mindfulness, the wisdom of the Enneagram, and the application of Energy Medicine and Energy Psychology. This holistic blend helps personal, professional and spiritual development. He founded as a journey into self-discovery and conscious awakening. It is a center to learn steps that move us from Surviving to Thriving to Awakening with many tools and inspirations to support the journey. He facilitates an on-going spiritual study group called Deepening Presence®.