blogging, Mental Health, Philosophy

Kindness – An Antidote to Self Criticism

“The happiness of life is made up of the little charities of a kiss or smile, a kind look, a heartfelt compliment.”

~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In the wake of #Black Lives Matter, some folk appear inclined to believe that being strong is a way to win respect, when it is just a way to promulgate fear.

They may have mistakenly learnt that in being strong they achieve more, or receive more. Does being strong ever bring happiness and contentment?

The two just don’t seem to go hand in hand.

Does a staunch or rigid boss even win respect from his workers by being hard-core? Or they do live in fear of disappointing him? Does a hard-line leader win support through negativity or merely decrease morale?

If a boss shows too much kindness in the workplace, do they feel they are a push-over?

Kindness is not to be mistaken for weakness, nor forgiveness for acceptance. It’s about knowing resentment of any kind is not on the path to happiness.


Weekly Proverb

Self – Criticism

We may be in the habit of berating or criticising ourselves for perceived shortcomings, constantly putting our own needs last, or inadvertantly disallowing ourselves the time, space and patience we deeply need to rest, heal and, ultimately to feel more content. In short, we are unwittingly being unkind to ourselves.

We may be our harshest critic; it may have become second nature to criticise ourselves and very challenging to praise and comfort ourselves or others.

But we cannot pour from an empty cup.

Kindness can fortify life, and seeing ourselves and others through a kinder lens can make a world of difference to all.

Regular practice of kind words and actions is infectious and it might just be the highest real success we achieve in this life. And it needn’t cost a thing.

Ultimately it is up to us as the sole creator of our thoughts.

Do you think you will appear weak if you show kindness to others?

Would it feel indulgent or selfish to show kindness to yourself?

Is there a time when you must display strength, without kindness, to survive?

Join the discussion by leaving a comment below.


54 thoughts on “Kindness – An Antidote to Self Criticism”

  1. Which do you see as the more important: being outwardly or inwardly kind ?
    I, she said modestly (as ever), do my best to spread the shit; but I’m hopeless at coating my own innards with it. Sighh ..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it starts with inner kindness, M-R, because then you can easily be outwardly kind but both are vital. Someone who is outwardly kind but inwardly unkind might always have a tendency to potentially be unkind to others if pushed hard enough. A very good question though. I think we are much harder on ourselves as we want to perform – it is a bit like whipping a horse. But people do not react like horses….

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Strength might have a different connotation to each of us. Strong but kind gives the impression of consistency and reasoned judgement. When we use other words to indicate strength, such as hardline or puritannical or stoic,we might find it harder to attach kindness to that role.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The problem I have with self love is that people who are self critical often had parents or other people who were hyper critical of them to create their state of mind in the first place. Humans have always picked on difference with racism being the obvious example but there are many others. If you were a kid often picked on or disliked for being different whether through race, behaviour or even being overweight then the mindset of being disliked is there from the start so learning to self love is alien to them. With little or no experience of being loved its hard to find the confidence not only for self love but to love others.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Absolutely, Klodo. If you have never experienced love from others, I think it would be harder to understand the concept. And yet it is a basic human need. You say ot might be hard to “find the confidence to self love.” Is confidence closely linked to self worth and thereby self-love?


      1. Probably as both are dependant on good parenting. People who have experienced abuse or even neglect are far less likely to as they have not been taught that they are worthy.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Well I think everyone is worthy – except perhaps paedophiles and psychopaths, anyone who is incapable of feeling empathy, in a physiological sense. After all, who is so superior to the next person they could deem anyone unworthy. Every individual should be judged on their worth by themselves alone. But then I even have a dilemma here – as I am thinking of a disabled person who is not able to think empathically. Such a difficult question but still self-worth is tied up with your own judgement inside your head, and reacts to the actions or interactions with others. Whether it is under our control is more vague, but it is a concept in our own brains, in that super ego that can be punitive and pushes us down if we listen to its B.S….


          1. But I am thinking if it comes back again to our neural pathways creating our moods and personality from past experience then someone with low self esteem can no more learn to love themselves than a depressed person can be told to just cheer up and be happy. It would requite experiences going well for a long period of time to change the brain chemistry. CBT is of course supposed to do this and yet often doesn’t.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I think at best, CBT if done the “right*” way, could only just open the door – the pathways have to be developed by the thoughts in one’s head and the production of that thought pattern is as you say, heavily influenced by past experiences. Yet I feel the critical factor is INTERPRETATION of those thoughts. If we are AWARE that there is a tendency to follow the negative neural pathway in interpretation, can we acknowlege that and direct the thoughts deliberately in another direction by maintaining some distance emotionally from that thought? Conversely, if we get caught so entwined in our mind about how that thought in making us feel we can not think any other way than the usual well worn depressive neural route in our brains. I do think focus – external or internal is critical here. What do you think?
              * By “right” way, I mean CBT that involves grounding techniques and questioning the realism of one’s thoughts, and not the bark like a dog in the street style of CBT, which isn’t to me really CBT at all.


    1. Then I am glad to meet you here, Jane. And I fully agree. We have it within all of us to influence the world around us little by little and can choose to do this in a loving kind way. Have a beautiful week!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t think being strong necessarily brings happiness, but I do think it’s necessary to stand up and fight against injustice in the world. Kindness will unfortunately not bring changes against those in power. Nevertheless and generally speaking, I think the world could need more kindness. I also agree with you that you won’t appear weak when you show kindness.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hey Otto – I can see you thought deeply about this and I also face a small dilemma in dissecting the topic of kindess and how it intersects with strength or lack thereof. That is partly why I wrote this post.
      I love that you agree we need more kindness and won’t appear weak if we show it and can see that kindness alone won’t bring about every positive change that is needed in the world, particularly where injustice is inflicted upon the disadvantaged. That is too much to expect, given human nature and its penchant for selfishness, which may stem from tendencies of self-preservation?
      However, I am bolstered by thoughts of Gandhi and passive resistance movements which included displaying kindness towards enemies. In doing that, one must possess enormous strength yet not of the physical or violent kind. Perhaps it is more of an emotional or intellectual strength. Do you think we can influence others in this way?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I think Gandhi was a great role model and he did show that non-violence can change the world. However, most people aren’t willing to do the kind of sacrifices he did. You could maybe say they don’t have his strength. He was unique (much like for instance Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela). I certainly don’t believe in violence, but the oppressed or those treated with injustice can’t just turn the other cheek.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Does it help them in the end to rail against those who are clearly stronger? Say the Hong kong folk resisting China or tiny Norway defending itself against the Naziis in WWII. I do agree you must protest injustice – it is the method that becomes salient. I would prefer to look for other solutions as there has to be a better way than fighting back with arms.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting post, with lots of thoughts to ponder. I do believe that kindness is the highest religion. There is also a time when you have to stand up for yourself, to not become a doormat, naturally you have the option to stand up for yourself in a kind way. I think this balance is easier to achieve as we get wiser in years. Thank you for a good read.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A higher religion? That is an excellent way to think of it. It can become a way of life and a way of interacting with others. I like that you mention standing up for yourself in a kind way. That is important.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. A lovely wisdom to share with your daughter. I wuite agree on the boundaries of help. “Help others as long as it doesn’t hurt yourself and help yourself as long as it doesn’t hurt others.” That is a mantra I keep in mind all the while trying to practise loving kindness and compassion.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Amanda, A beautiful quote by Coleridge. Interesting concepts on the rigid, staunch or the kind boss. I have had both and I could see more results from the team with the kind boss. Unfortunately, many of us fall into the self-criticism trap. I know I do, and it is something I work on. I may have told you before, Amanda, that I received a beautiful note from an acquaintance, who is now a friend. “Be as kind to yourself as you are to others.” It still means a great deal to me. A beautiful post!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You are indeed lucky to receive a kind note such as the one you described from your thoughtful friend.
      I agree it is very easy to fall into the self-criticism trap, if we are in the habit of doing so. Especially so, if we grew up in a culture where it was frowned upon to brag about one’s own accomplishments or skills. Thus, in sad moments it can lead to us coming down hard on ourselves due to frustratíons. Awareness of this is a critical first step to halting it.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. great post! I highly agree with all your ideas, thank you for reminding us of what is most important in life!☺️

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    Liked by 2 people

  7. Thanks for this post. This is something I subconsciously wrestle with all the time, but don’t often take the time to ponder what it is about or take the time to conclude anything definitive about kindness. Why does it seem so hard to be kind sometimes? I think I tell myself that I’m kind, but I am not always a kind person to others. Thanks especially for this quote. I found it the most helpful for me, because I think I wrestle with resentment the most, and that gets in the way of being able to be kind: “Kindness is not to be mistaken for weakness, nor forgiveness for acceptance. It’s about knowing resentment of any kind is not on the path to happiness.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment, Dave. You certainly sparked some more thinking on this topic for me, which is great.
      Why does it seem hard to be kind?

      For a person who has lived a life being strong, or admiring strength, or believing it is the way to keep fears at bay, practicing kindness would be very hard without any rigidity. When people have been hurt and carry a lot of pain and anger inside, they might transform this pain into a kind of strength, as a self-protection mechanism.
      The final quote hints that this pain will not necessarily lead to happiness.
      I struggled with the concept of forgiveness to those who really hurt me badly, but in the end I saw that those feelings that were preventing any forgiveness on my part, and more significantly were hurting me more than the person who had transgressed against me.
      It is a little easier when I think of forgiveness being something very specific. We might forgive the other person for failing, for being slack at what they had to do; and this thinking allowed me to see they were at a different point in the journey of life ie. they were still learning or had lessons to experience in life.
      When someone has been intentional about hurting another, it is more about the perpetrator gaining revenge, and an absence of empathy and compassion. This is much harder to forgive by the victim, I think, however again, we can think of this as something that prevents us from moving on and prolongs the damage to our own selves. I wonder if looking in to the beginning of those feeling might give you a clue as to why they persist?

      Liked by 1 person

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