Psychology Insights: Self Criticism to Self Compassion

Why are we so hard on ourselves


Great question!

One that I’m asked often. And one that I often ask myself.


What causes this behaviour?

The answer is multifaceted and includes several factors including how we were parented (when internalized superego and conscience first develops) and eventually how we parent ourselves.

For example:

When something goes wrong, how do you respond?

1. Self Criticism versus Self Compassion

2. Self Control versus Self Love and Understanding 



How do I make the shift from self criticism to self compassion?

1. Pay attention to where your self judgements originated.

Is this your personal measure of worthiness or society’s expectation of success?

2. Investigate how truly arbitrary the standards you set for yourself are.

For example, who said you had to weigh 125 lbs, have a million dollars in the bank, and be married by 30?

3. Don’t Believe Everything You Think!

  • Watch this short video for additional insights into the developmental origins of toxic self criticism, unrealistic standards, and the SUPERego.

“Be kinder to yourself. And let your kindness flood the world.”

65 thoughts on “Psychology Insights: Self Criticism to Self Compassion

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  1. Well stated. I think the dividing line here is ‘judgment’ verses introspection.

    We should always evaluate our motives and assess the merits of our own actions and investments.

    Of course, as you point out, that enemy within comes along and tries to beat up on us. Naturally, that enemy within is us. This requires a strong belief system to overcome our tendency to sell ourselves short.

    Yet, that belief system should include an elder to keep us humble as I believe humans require a check and balance systems and mechanism. However, judgment is another matter.

    Whatever is, is. What might look like good may not be and what appears bad may not be either. To that, we must leave to God. The element we assure ourselves are indeed, innermost motives. IF we begin with good, we’ll probably end with good.

    Thank you for your words of encouragement. I think you’re great.

    1. Thank you so much Mr. Thompson! For your thoughtful reply and your encouragement. You have given me a lot to reflect upon. Which is 100% why I love blogging more than any other form of writing. I learn every time I write. Not from my words – but from yours and every person who reads and contributes to my posts. Have a wonderful Tuesday! Andrea 😀

  2. Dr. Dinardo you are such an inspiration. I don’t get to read as much as I want to , but am making more time to digest things like this. You encourage serving from an overflow. You share wonderful insights and add value to this world. Sharon C.

    1. Ahhh Sharon. Thank YOU so much. If only you could see the smile on my face! (the video in my post will give you an idea :))) My mission in life is to share psychology far & wide. Especially to people who don’t have the money or the means to take a psychology class. Your comment reminds me that I have achieved my goal of bringing psychology to everyone.

  3. So in other words: question WHERE [does it originate] and then question WHY [believe it].

    That’s going to take a lot of work but I think it could just pay off!

  4. I think a lot of my early childhood was living in a sort of parallel world to my older parents. They got on with retirement and I got on with play. Neither of them wished me to (oh wait I think my mother wanted me to marry, but that came later) do anything but perhaps to NOT disturb them too much, stay well (so they didn’t have to look after a sick child) and the traditional thing of my day in lower class British household, to be hardly seen and seldom heard. Out in the fields, up trees, being chased by cattle, scrumping apples, sheltering from the rain in the empty church… To busy to worry about anything as modern as an eating disorder. As for school they weren’t up to much pressure to achieve anything either.

  5. Inspiring words yet again Andrea.

    I can look back & see a particularly difficult time in my career when I sensed the beginnings of working in a hostile , cut throat organisation. This experience seemed quite alien to me aged 42 years as from age of 16 yrs (nursing cadet) I had grown up and was nurtured working in a happy family aka n.h.s. Market forces were looming and my sensitivity to the hostile environment proved correct.

    Self preservation by ‘watching your back’ became the order of the day even though you were a competent, caring & reliable professional.

    1. I know scenario, all too well. The tragic part is that you had to go through this Margaret when all you cared about was who you cared for. And unfortunately, not all of your fellow clinicians and nurses had the same singular healing focus that you had (and have).

      The upside is that you never lost focus on what mattered most. Taking care of others – and eventually learning that you needed to be at the top of the list!

      Thank you for sharing. I admire your life experience & life changing lessons.

      1. Thank you so much Andrea for sharing your astuteness & sensitivity. After all those difficult later working years (not clients) your words are so appreciated.
        Take care ❤️😇☘️

  6. Thank you, Andrea for this dose of inspiration. I have known for a long time that I am my own worst critic and now you have me thinking about that parental voice in my head. You are absolutely right, we are perfect the way we are and we are the way we are for a reason. Have a wonderful day 😊 🌞

    1. Thank you for sharing about your inner critic. I can so relate! (Isn’t it ‘nuts’ that nobody in our lives would talk to us, the way that we talk to ourselves.)

      So let me be the friend that reminds you — You are the epitome of spreading sunshine Syl. And my greatest hope is that you capture a ray of that sunshine for yourself. Every chance you get!

      1. You’re welcome and we can really can get harsh with ourselves at times.
        Thank you so very much,my friend for the reminder and I’m reaching for more rays of sunshine at this point in my life!

        You continue to spread those seeds of hope that make a difference in lives of many and send you blessings in return 😊

    1. I love that your comment was posted at “11:11”. A beautiful sign indeed.

      May your September be filled with Beautiful Daisies, inside and out. For that is exactly how your writing, gardening, and photography makes us feel Brigid.

      Fresh. Free. And Alive!

    1. “Everything starts with us why not think before saying anything to anyone.”


      Ownership is a very powerful force. Though it’s tempting to complain & blame others for life’s circumstances, including the thoughts that run through our minds. The key is to name it – to tame it. While understanding its’ source. Then and only then, can we be truly free.

  7. Good post. I sacked my inner parent a long time ago but my own perfectionism can still make me do things that could be regarded as too strict. However, I level it out with my sense of humor 🙂

    1. “I sacked my inner parent a long time ago.”
      I’m doing a happy dance for THIS ^ comment ^

      And when perfectionism shows up … dance to your fav song!
      .. this is your psychology homework… funnest way to silence inner critic 😉 😉

      1. Thanks Andrea. I like your homework assignment:-) I do have tinnitus, a high tone which bugs me, any suggestions for that? Thanks again!

  8. As always, so timeous, so caring; thank you.

    My lineage, from my Father back through history was that of military men. Until a few years ago, our menfolk were compelled to do military service. I assume that discipline (and its related standard setting) was one of the strictest teachers in my upbringing, but thankfully that has all left me now.

    Thanks to new thought teachers like: James Allen, Wallace Wattles, Neville Goddard, Neale Walsch, Eckhard Tolle, and our own Dr D!

    I’m a ‘Man With a Mission’ into the world of thought management. What a difference it has made to my life!

    1. I can feel the energy & the enthusiasm in your comments! Thank you for your encouragement & the sharing of your lineage and influences. I am honoured x 100 to be included in the list.

      PLUS the timing of reading your note could not be more timely, as I am about to head into to teach a 3 hour psychology lecture and the more energy I have the better!

      Have a wonderful day Sir Peter. I admire your mission.

    1. You are so welcome! Your feedback motivates me big time to keep writing and filming my psychology videos.

      May all your (winds of) change be positive this Fall. And know that I am cheering you on the whole way.

  9. I don’t remember ever seeing a video of this kind that packs so much insight and help into such a comfortably short time.

    I think I will have to practice the affirmation, because when I say, “you are perfect, just the way you are,” another voice from me says, “no you’re not. Nobody’s perfect.”

    I could use “wonderful.” That works for me.

    Thank you so much!

  10. Thanks for this Dr. D! I think it’s very important because, as you know, we spend the most time with ourselves! I do wish we were taught this growing up so that we could then pass the information on to our children so we can create a healthier society.

    1. I always love it when you stop by Dr. G! You leave these little diamonds of sayings that have me thinking even more deeply about the topic.

      Thankfully, we’re both professors and can continue to illuminate the next generation – long before we discovered these truths ourselves.


    1. So true Michele!

      We mistakenly view thoughts as “facts”.
      This is rarely the case.

      Which is why I often assign REALITY TESTING HOMEWORK to my coaching clients.

      For Example
      reality testing homework for cognitive distortions related to body image :

  11. I love the idea of reparenting ourselves. I recall when I became a parent for the first time, and thinking how it comes with no manual and we fumble through. And now, as adults responsible for only ourselves, when we expect so much from ourselves we need to learn even more that it’s okay to make mistakes and it’s even more important to be kind to ourself. Awesome post Andrea. 🙏💙

    1. Thank you my dear Aussie Friend 💓💓

      Your words and reflections always lift my spirits and motivate me to keep writing and creating.

      Wishing you a beautiful Fall Day in Australia!

      Andrea 💓💓

  12. Hello Dr. Andrea,

    wonderful post and just fabulous video, thank you so much for this 😊

    Loved learning about the Superego, and love your healing suggestion of taking a breath whenever the inner critic or judge appears..

    and then replacing the negative words with loving ones.

    Thank you 😊
    Maria Elena

    1. Maria Elena, you are officially adopted as one of my virtual psychology students. Thank you for taking the time to watch, read, and reflect. Your comment made my day! Dr. Andrea 💓

      1. Oh, thanks so much Dr. Andrea, what a wonderful message! I am very happy to be adopted as one of your virtual students:) I have always loved psychology and finding out more about our “inner universes”. Thank you! Much love 💓

  13. Well said..

    It’s all about your own choices…how you choose to respond to situations…your will to accept flaws and change…very difficult for many…

    This helps.

    1. Humanistic psychology has always been my favourite. Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers especially. Reminding us to own our choices. For that’s the place where our freedom lies.

      Love knowing this post hit home!
      Thank you Krish

  14. Thank you Andrea… lots of great advice.

    Loved your video. 😊

    It took me a long while to stop beating myself up… And love myself…

    Thank you for all you share, I do not always get chance to visit…. But your posts are always so helpful and enlightening..

    Take care and thank you again. 😊

  15. What a lovely post Andrea!❤

    I took off from wordpress for a long time, and god I missed your positive posts and and your beautiful voice on your videos.

    Your posts are so insightful and full of warmth and positivity 😊

    Thank you so much for sharing 🌸

    1. Welcome Back to WordPress!

      Thank you for the kindest of words and encouragement. I hope you realize how much your insights and reflections on happiness motivate me!

      A two way street of positivity.


  16. Wow, this is really very good idea to improve our own mentality.
    Thank you very much for sharing this tips. Loved the video!
    Everybody should follow these tips at least once in a day.

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