Every so often, I criticize myself for something that I did. Such as, criticizing myself for saying something awkward or not doing well enough on a school assignment. These harsh inner dialogues often left me feeling anxious or sad for the whole day. My mindset was that criticizing myself was an attempt to improve or grow as a person. If I criticize myself then maybe I would not repeat the embarrassing mistake or I can do better next time.
One day I sat down to reflect on my self-criticism. According to How To Win Friends & Influence People you should never criticize or condemn others. I agreed with this however I thought about what may happen if I were to stop criticizing myself. I hypothesized that I would become lazy, narcissistic, and never grow as a person.
So, in order to test this hypothesis, I challenged myself to be completely critical of myself for one whole day and then be completely nice/forgiving to myself the next day. The critical day left me feeling gloomy, depressed & anxious. There was so much I hated about myself and I kept making mistakes that I would criticize myself.
Contrastingly, I felt great when I was nice to myself. I had more energy throughout the day and I was not scared about the repercussions of making a mistake. I felt motivated to be the best version of myself I could be. It was nice having being so understanding. I recognized that I could improve in various areas of my life. However, I was happy and accepting of who I am at this moment in time.
Overall, I realized that being inwardly critical did not seem to have any positive effects throughout the day. I actually felt less motivated and it seemed like I was becoming someone I didn’t want to become.
I would recommend reflecting to see if you are more compassionate or critical to yourself. Do your own experiment to see if you prefer being self-critical or self-compassionate.