One of the reasons people become self-critical has to do with our biological systems. Our need to belong to a community makes us sensitive to what is suitable in the group, and how we are supposed to behave in order to fit in. Therefore, we are born with the ability to feel ashamed. 

Healthy, mild shame is necessary for this type of customization.

But when we, as small children, realize how horrible it feels to receive criticism from our parents, it can make us want to criticize ourselves first. It feels better than risking someone else’s attack.

We also believe that we would escape criticism if only we were perfect. 

But this striving can make us feel like we are never good enough. We fall into a constant competition to achieve more, pass more, even be more than we are. Which, in turn, makes us have unrealistic demands on ourselves. We tend to use a hard inner voice that tells us what we should and must.

Tara Brach, an American psychologist and meditation teacher who has become immensely popular all over the world, has discovered that people increasingly seem to be "in a trance of unworthiness." 

I am the only Swedish reporter who has interviewed Tara Brach. In my article Why Self-compassion Is So Radical you can read about her method of radical acceptance, and how she learnt to embrace life when an incurable genetic disease stopped her from a lot of activities that she loved.

Your turn
Read the interview mentioned above. Follow-up with Tara Brach’s self-acceptance exercise RAIN.