Learning Self-Compassion in a World That Encourages Self-Criticism

It’s been a relief

Merre Larkin
5 min readFeb 28, 2024
Woman lying on ground with eyes closed
Photo by Amy Treasure on Unsplash

I don’t know about you, but I can be extremely self-critical. I’ve been that way for so long, it’s hard to remember a time when I wasn’t. I walk away from a conversation and beat myself up for saying something I think maybe I shouldn’t have said. I trip on the sidewalk and immediately think to myself how clumsy I am (and take a quick look around to see if anyone saw me do it).

I also have to admit to all of the times that being so self-critical kept me from doing things because I knew I’d be upset if I failed at it, or embarrassed if I made a fool of myself. Unfortunately, I only missed out on what a lot of fun I could have had. And the confidence I could have gained, whether I succeeded or failed.

The one thing self-criticism did help me with — although in the long run I’m not sure how helpful this was — was getting good grades in high school and then in college. My mom used to say that she and my dad didn’t have to put pressure on me to get good grades because I put enough pressure on myself. She told me I was “intense” back in those days.

I didn’t feel intense. I felt insecure and lacking and like I couldn’t keep up. I’d cry if I got a B. Sometimes if I got an A-. (That’s messed up.)



Merre Larkin

Writer of nonfiction (memoir, essays), fiction, and poetry. Life/writing coach. Educator. Marathoner. Avid reader. Here to share, here to learn.