Worst critic – being hard on ourselves

By Dave Henning / December 10, 2020

“The reality is, many of us were raised to believe that we should be our worst critic and that being hard on ourselves was the best — maybe the only — catalyst for change. . . .  this condemning spirit contradicts the approach of our gracious, compassionate, and loving God.”- Aundi Kolber

Aundi Kolber concludes Chapter 9 of Try Softer as she talks about the three main elements of compassion.  Kristin Neff, the foremost researcher in this field, identifies these elements:

1.  Mindfulness vs. overidentification.  The key here, according to Neff, involves pairing self-compassion with mindfulness to sustain our ability to respond gently to ourselves.  Hence, mindfulness = awareness of our experiences.  But self-compassion means we do something about what we know without overidentifying with that experience.

 2.  Self-kindness vs. self-judgment.  When Aundi works with clients who find it hard to show kindness to themselves, she often uses this exercise.  Aundi asks them to think about someone toward whom they readily feel a sense of love or compassion.  As a result, Aundi’s clients find it easier to direct those same feelings toward themselves.

And physical touch, even from ourselves (giving yourself a hug), releases the hormone/neurotransmitter oxytocin in our brains.  This also happens when people fall in love.

3.  Common humanity vs. isolation.  When we realize that all people go through suffering, we’re more likely to see ourselves as worthy of compassion.  In addition, we’re less likely to feel as if we’re all alone.

Thus, we don’t need to shame or criticize ourselves to stay in line.  Because, Aundi exhorts, God always extends kindness, compassion, and goodness toward us.  Above all, the Hebrew word checed – -commonly translated  as mercy, kindness, loving-kindness, and goodness — appears 248 time in the Old Testament.  Certainly, then, this isn’t a fleeting aspect of God’s character.  He’s displayed it throughout history.

So, Aundi asks the reader to pause and think about this: “the kindness God extends to us is exactly as lovely as we dare to think.”

Today’s question: When do you find yourself acting as your worst critic?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Surrender for the right reasons – empowering”

About the author

Dave Henning

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