When I talk to people about self-compassion, their first reaction is often one of concern or disbelief. They think that being kind to themselves will make them weak or complacent; they believe that self-criticism keeps them accountable or improves their performance; and they worry that letting go of the habit of self-criticism will somehow render them less capable. What they don’t know is that the opposite is true: beating themselves up and holding themselves accountable to unattainable standards are actually very likely to undermine their performance.
Recent research indicates that self-criticism predicts depression, avoidance behaviors (such as trying to avoid failure), loss of self-esteem, negative perfectionism (maladaptive perfectionism, the unhelpful perfectionism that doesn’t drive us toward better performance but, rather, toward shame and anxiety), procrastination, and rumination. Ultimately, self-criticism compromises your goals and undermines your pursuits, whether they are academic, health-related, personal, or professional.