When is Self-condemnation healthy?
The great saints of yore who criticized themselves did so because their hearts overflowed with love and gratitude. They didn’t have to ‘try’ and feel lowly; it just naturally happened because their hearts were so abundant with God. Many of these saints experienced God’s love and therefore everything else of this world-including their own existence-paled in comparison. It’s the overwhelming experience of devotion- ‘effective’ devotion, not ‘executive’, that explains the humility of advanced spiritual practitioners. They didn’t practise feeling fallen. Unfortunately many who imitate these great souls land up feeling depressed.
A heart that is not experiencing rich love cannot criticize itself. And if we do consciously engage in self-condemnation, we simply attract lower energies. It’s better to appreciate the self, thank God and then allow the heart to be filled with God’s love. This practise over time would lead one to spontaneously apologise for his inadequacies.
If you are already miserable, don’t make your condition worse by giving undue importance to the vicious critic in your own head. At the same time, self-criticism helps if we learn and grow from it. To live successfully with our own selves, we need self-acceptance and to sustain our relationships with others, we need a healthy practise of self-criticism.
Louise Hay had a troubled childhood having been abused by her step father, and raped by her neighbour. After decades of misery, she learnt transcendental meditation at Mahesh Yogi’s ashram and soon began practising and teaching positive thinking to help people heal themselves. She achieved wide popularity and success as her books sold more than fifty million copies. In her best-selling book You Can Heal Your Life, she challenges our conventional proclivity towards self-criticism, “Remember you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”
It’s healthy to look at our mistakes objectively but it’s more important to live authentically. Then we wouldn’t need approval from others because our external lives are consistent with our inner values.Let’s learn to celebrate with gratitude God’s gift of this one blessed life. And if you find that difficult, you could thank for the fact that you can read and write this essay, or have the digestion to eat your food, or the eyes to see. Just start somewhere and see the world of difference it makes in your life.