Compassionate Friend or Inner Critic?

Compassionate Friend or Inner Critic www.kimfredrickson.comImagine what your life would be like if you related to yourself as a compassionate friend rather than as harsh bully.

What would it be like if you were your own best friend during difficult times? What if next time you messed up, you decided to learn from it rather than beat yourself up?

Honestly, it would make a world of difference.

This gentle and balanced way of relating to yourself is called self-compassion. It’s treating yourself as you would a friend who is struggling, scared, confused or learning something new.

Self-compassion is a balance of truth (“Yes, I made a mistake.”) with grace (“I have worth and value, and I will address mistakes directly.”).

Grace and truth together means you acknowledge a negative that happened without either minimizing it or making it more than it was, and at the same time applying compassion to yourself.

Self-compassion helps us handle our humanity and the situations we are in with empathy, concern, understanding and kindness.

Mounds of research show that those who lack self-compassion struggle more with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, lack of resilience and problems in relationships. In addition, it is common to have trouble letting go of mistakes, forgiving oneself and recovering from painful experiences.

Being a compassionate friend to ourselves helps us become better friends, spouses, parents, bosses and co-workers. We have more love and energy to give others when we are in a more settled place inside and aren’t wasting time and energy fighting with our inner critic.

But wait! Isn’t this just being selfish? Is self-compassion Biblical?

The answer is a resounding Yes! Check this out:

Mark 12:28–31 says: One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Jesus was asked which commandment was the greatest and He gave them two commandments encompassed by one principle: Love.

Love God with everything in you. Love your neighbor and use your model for loving them, as the way you love yourself.

Wait! What? Our model for loving others is how we love ourselves? Uh oh!

Ephesians 4:25-32 tells us how we are to love our neighbors. Let’s take a look at verses 29-32 specifically.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

If we are to do this for one another, why wouldn’t we also do this for ourselves?

We are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. When God instructs us to “love your neighbor as yourself”, He assumes we have a healthy and balanced amount of self-love.

Galatians 5:22–23 is another passage than can inspire us to treat ourselves in a Biblically sound way. This wisdom applies to our interactions with others as well as ourselves.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

These verses describe characteristics that emanate from someone who is yielded to the Holy Spirit. When we are in tune with Him and connected to Him, we naturally experience and express these characteristics toward everyone—including ourselves.

What a difference it would make to us internally as well as to those in relationship with us, if we treated ourselves in the above ways.

Believe it or not, a lack of self-compassion actually hurts our relationship with God. Our inner critic won’t let God’s mercy, compassion and forgiveness register deep within.

So what it boils down to is this. God deeply and profoundly loves you. He wants you to love and care for yourself. This gives you so much more to share with others.

God wants you to relate to yourself the way He relates to you – with love, grace and truth. What a gracious Father we have!

I would love to get your input.

What was your reaction when you saw the picture, Friend or Foe? How have you seen yourself become a better friend to yourself? What jumped out at you from this blog post??

Please leave your comments below and share on social media or via e-mail with others who might benefit!

This post was first published by as a guest post by Kim  Oct 2016




16 thoughts on “Compassionate Friend or Inner Critic?

  1. Kim, I am grateful for your teaching on this subject.
    I have found peace in considering my own needs aling with everyone elses.
    Studying your book last year was such a gift from God in my life!
    God bless you and may all those you minister to gain understanding in this area and become whole healed people.

    1. Thanks so much Mary! I’m so glad for the growth you have made, and the peace you are experiencing as you consider your own needs along with everyone else. I love how you worded that! Gods blessing on you as well Mary

  2. I’ve always had great compassion and mercy for others, but still have not applied that to myself-at least not as I should. Am not sure why I have trouble doing that. Guess my question is why not?

    1. Great question! Maybe that’s the next step for you…applying the compassion and mercy God has given you, to yourself as well. I can’t wait to hear how it goes!

      1. Dear Kim,
        Thank You for doing this Blog and encouraging me along the path of building a more compassionate relationship with my “dear self”. It’s uncomfortable to admit that the “bully within” has had more freedom
        to take over territory that was not for the “taking”!!! I believe I am now “up to the challenge” of reclaiming
        that territory for Glorifying our Heavenly Father and the assignment HE’S extended to me for the balance of my days!!! Thank You again Kim!!!

        1. You are so welcome Lillian! I’m SO GLAD that my blog has been so helpful to you. You are doing sacred work to reclaim your “dear self.” Thanks so much for taking the time to share with me 🙂

  3. I have been guilty of extending grace to everyone except myself, just like Meg described.
    Unfortunately, I saw that modeled as I was growing up so this will require prayerful surrender
    for some time to “re-wire” and replace this unhealthy pattern.

    1. You are making great progress! It makes sense you practiced what was modeled to you. God has made us resilient, and He is right by your side!

  4. Thank you so much Kim! . . . . I sincerely appreciate this teaching and I appreciate you and —yes, it is so, so true that this gentle, kind and balanced way of relating to ourselves taught in your book and detailed here really is a superior way to live. It is treating ourselves as we would a friend who is “. . . struggling, scared, confused, learning something new.”

    For me, just two small examples, out of hundreds, of why this is so, so, so hard. . . . My issue is the way churches have taught this for 1900 years. . . Paul, in Corinthians: “. . . . But I roughly treat myself and beat my body with blows, and bring my being into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified. . .”. . . . Jesus, in Matthew, “. . . .And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fires of hell.”. . . . Honestly, much of the self beatings and harshness in my life, I got from the Word of God. I read lots of historical sermons, churches have taught this for untold centuries. “. . .But wait! Isn’t this just being selfish? Is self-compassion Biblical?” . . . . The very fact that we even have to disabuse people of this tells the tale. And I certainly bet “. . . . mounds of research show that those who lack self-compassion struggle more with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, lack of resilience and problems in relationships.” I am certain that is true. I have seen some of that research too.

    . . . .Okay, so what do I do? I know what the Greek New Testament says —in context. I know what churches, scholars and text experts have taught for centuries and even not that long ago . . . . but it is time to bury all that because it is smelling up my life and no one wants to be near my rotted corpse of church history and Greek, Coptic, Syriac, Old Church Slavonic, bible manuscripts. I can be bitter about it or I can let it go. The more I talk about it, rehash it, rethink it, cross analyze it, debate it, respond to it, the more it continues to rot in my brain. So, . . .

    To myself: Aleea, have the courage to love yourself like you always wished someone would. Deeply, truly love yourself and go for only the approval and acceptance of God and your inner self. Give up what weighs you down. . . .Love yourself. Forgive yourself. Be true to yourself. How you treat yourself sets the standard for how others will treat you. When you mistrust your own abilities, you are being wicked to yourself, discouraging yourself from doing what you should have be excelling in (—self-compassion, self-care and self-love). When you are good at discouraging yourself, you can’t inspire others to face challenges. Loving yourself isn’t just about celebrating your accomplishments and nurturing your talents. Loving yourself is what you do when you fail, when you don’t know, when you forget, when you lose everything. Loving yourself is what you do when you can’t approve of what you’ve done. Loving yourself is what you do when you’re not sure if it’s going to get better. Loving yourself is what you must do in those moments when you can’t like yourself. Real love is when you reach out for no good reason at all, except to love yourself. True love is healthy, respectful, and nurturing, whether it’s for ourselves or for another person. It’s positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing to those in our sphere of influence, including the person we look at in the mirror every single morning.

    To God: Lord God, help me have the self-compassion and self-love that allows me to have a better relationship with You. God help me let your mercy, compassion and forgiveness r-e-a-l-l-y register. Please help me see that you deeply and profoundly love me and let me do that for myself so I have real love to share with others.

    1. Aleea! I love what you shared! You identified the very understandable reasons why being compassionate with yourself has been so hard. This realization is caring and loving to yourself. I love your encouragement to yourself, and your prayer to God! Beautiful! Print them, and keep a copy with you 🙂

      1. Kim,
        Thank you for such kind and caring words. . . . Kim, I just feel so ashamed of myself. I can’t do any of the things I write about. That’s all I have is just writing about them. I mean, I can say them but can’t really do them. . . . .And I feel ashamed saying that to you because you have to go on (somehow) with a thousand-times the issues and hardships I have. Kim, I can’t love or have compassion on myself to save my soul. My counselor, Dr. Meier, says that the reason for that is that love can’t be forced and I am trying to force it (—force having love and compassion for myself). It seems like everything in my life has been done only by force. Maybe I only “love” God because I fear hell and maybe I have never really loved anyone because I clearly, internally, feel like I don’t love or have compassion for myself, even when I understand/can say all those words and prayers. . . . I can’t overcome reverting back to bitterness over my childhood abuse. Dr. Meier says I just keep resending that bill (to my parents, in my mind) over and over and over for all the pain of the abuse. Kim, I want to get to that filthy, stinking swamp and drain it but I can’t. It is like I am just dead inside. Do I just keep letting it go even if I sometimes take parts of it back?

        1. Aleea…you have NOTHING to be ashamed about. Since we met online a year ago you have made so much progress. You could have never written those wonderful words a year ago. That is what progress looks like. Even what you said at the end is actually so encouraging. “Do I just keep letting it go even if I sometimes take parts of it back?” Do you hear that? “Even if I SOMETIMES take PARTS of it back?” That my dear is what progress and growth look like!

          You are growing, you are changing, you are learning step by step … and doing a wonderful, imperfect, fantastic job. By sharing your reality with us, you also are blessing so many…who feel the same way! I’m wondering if empathizing and validating the terrible abuse you’ve been through is just what you need. Talk to your counselor about this. Rather than getting mad at yourself for “reverting back to bitterness over my childhood abuse”, maybe it would be soothing to say,”Yes that was horrible, yes that should have never happened, yes you have every reason to still be struggling.” Blessing to you…

          1. “That my dear is what progress and growth look like!” . . . .Thank you so much Kim. I realize in listening to your words that you have taught me what could never before be taught. . . .

            “. . . . I’m wondering if empathizing and validating the terrible abuse you’ve been through is just what you need.” I hope so because I do a lot of it. I think the purest form of faith happens when you reach the bottom of your reasoning and find there is nothing that you can do that will make sense out of what you have been through. I know I don’t have to tell you that, you know.

            Many prayers, always . . .Thank you so much Kim.

          2. Aleea…thanks for sharing. I love how you put this, ” I think the purest form of faith happens when you reach the bottom of your reasoning and find there is nothing that you can do that will make sense out of what you have been through”. So true…thanks so much for your prayers 🙂

  5. “…lack of self-compassion actually hurts our relationship with God. Our inner critic won’t let God’s mercy, compassion and forgiveness register deep within.”
    This stood out the most to me. In some seasons, my heart feels like Teflon and God’s love is the water – I can’t get it to sink in. I believe Jesus is real in my head but my heart is just ….’meh.’ I know faith is not a feeling but it would be nice to upgrade to a heart of flesh that He promises.
    Thank you for pressing on, Kim. Your transparency encourages so many of us!

    1. Diane…I’m so glad this post was helpful to you. I encourage you to continue to build a compassionate relationship with yourself. You are so worth it, and you are on the right path! So glad to have you share today, Diane

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