Hi my name is Manoj Krishna and in this blog I want to explore the question of ‘Why we are critical of ourselves’. Its based on the book Understanding me, Understanding You, which is part of the non-profit Human Enquiry Project.
Some degree of self-criticism is healthy, but for many people it can be a cause of deep unhappiness and low self-esteem. Sometimes it can manifest as an eating disorder, or as chronic anxiety. It makes us more sensitive to criticism from others as well as making us more critical of other people. Our pain demands our attention so we can become self-absorbed, and lose our sensitivity to the people in our lives. It can also distort our ability to think clearly and become a habit which we can’t seem to change.
So what is behind this feeling? At its core is the difference between who we are, and who we would like to be, which we can call our images of ourselves. We are this and want to be that, which we think will make us happy. The difference between our images and our reality is what causes our pain. We are over-weight and want to be thin, or thin and want to look more muscular, or be more loved, or more important, or be better at something, and so on.
This process goes on automatically and we are blind to it. We do not realise that we have accumulated all these images from our environment, and this has happened without our consent. For example, we may not see the link between reading a fashion magazine and thinking we need to lose weight.
So what can we do? We could start by observing our images and the hidden way they act in our lives. We may then realise that our problem lies not in who we are but in our images of who we want to be, and just let them go. This understanding would allow us to just accept ourselves, which would bring so much peace to our lives.