• Ashwini Muralikumar

Why Self Criticism may not work.

Updated: Nov 28

Women & Design // WID Insights

Good behaviour = Rewards & Celebration

Bad Behaviour = Punishments & Criticism



We all want to change. We all also want SUSTAINABLE change. The default setting is to criticize your actions until some form of acceptable change happens. But, has this approach been working for anybody? Is it effective for long-lasting behavior changes? Let’s find out.


But before that, Let’s look at what we perceive as right or wrong (Good behaviour & Bad behaviour)



What is right and what is wrong?


This world consists of opposites by design. It is very clear that it's not a coincidence. Light & Dark, Hot & Cold, They all have their place. You have to experience one to know the other. But the one that seems to bother people a lot is 'Right & Wrong'. How can you tell if something is right or if something is wrong? Is it wrong because the law says it is or is it wrong because it feels wrong? As Human beings with complex minds and emotions, we are highly likely to respond to feelings. So it is right simply because it feels right. But right & wrong is variable due to many factors. One thought process DOES NOT apply to all. Because of our complexities, it differs from person to person, circumstances and experiences. In one way of perception, stealing is wrong. Very clearly, taking something that does not belong to you is a crime. But what if someone is pushed into a situation where stealing is the only way they could survive? Then, what is black or white starts to look a little grey? What I’m trying to say is, these ideas of right and wrong do not come from us. They were given to us by the world we live in and that is why it is important to look past an individual’s (and your own) actions to truly understand them. When was the last time we did that? We are all so quick to JUDGE & make ASSUMPTIONS.



The default setting - Self Criticism & Judgement.


We have all felt the desire t0 change. To be better than who we were in almost every aspect of life, chasing some romanticised idea of perfection. Yet, when we fail, there’s no one more critical than our inner judge. “You are so stupid, you can never do anything right!”, Sound familiar? We try so hard not to fall back into old patterns but more often than not, setbacks are a guaranteed part of the process. Hence the saying, ‘Change is not linear’. It is not a direct path and this is acceptable to most people — a lot of us have made peace with the fact that we will slip up a few times. But for lasting behaviour changes to occur, we have to question where this need to change comes from. Is it because someone told you that you needed to? Or because you don’t feel good and want to correct yourself? In a lot of cases, it’s either one of these things. To simplify the question further, Does it come from a place of love & acceptance or Criticism & Judgement? Which is the easier path?



Self-love or Self-compassion?


Self-love is all over the internet. To love yourself regardless of what may be happening around you. A lot of us have tried this, very few have succeeded. In a sense, it fails because it’s an extreme response. Acceptance is easier because you understand that things are a certain way and only time can heal them. Self-love is extreme because to love yourself even when it feels wrong will drag you back into that cycle of judgement — which is exactly what we are trying to avoid. A better approach is self-compassion. You have been compassionate in many instances of your life, you have to extend the same to yourself. When you are trying to change and you find yourself about to slip up, look at the situation without judgement. How would you help someone going through the same thing? You won’t ridicule or criticise them, you will, however, understand the situation and think of solutions. Acceptance and Compassion are powerful tools for sustainable change because it removes judgement. In a world with a constantly evolving value system & cancel culture — Empathising with yourself and life around you is the need of the hour.





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With 🧡 Team WID.



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