From a young age and through schooling we are taught that there are winners and losers, that it is bad to achieve low grades or to perform poorly in music or sport, or even perhaps to have few friends. Sometimes we judge ourselves critically, saying that we are not good enough that we should be better than we are. The first part in self acceptance is to be compassionate for ourselves, even more compassionate than we would be to a friend or stranger.Self criticism is not so effective but kindliness and care is more effective.
Self criticism comes from the Amygdala primitive part of the brain but compassion comes from the mamilian care-giving system, which is a part of the modern part of the brain (cortical). The high-level pattern is able to override the primitive emotion in this case.
In previous eras, the primitive defense system primes us for a flight or fight response to a situation say an predatory animal but in modern society it also triggers to defend our self concept. The primitive defense systems do not assess well the threat to self concept and tend to create a compromised response.
One way to flip from fight or flight to compassion is to put both of our hands on our heart, a gesture of affection and compassion to oneself. This is not only a gesture but it will induce a physiological response. Tone of voice and body language are important also.
Alternative methods to self criticism is self encouragement. Rather being critical, being compassionate and encouraging to one self is much more effective. It's important to notice that the self criticism is occurring and to use the self care approach every time. Compassion is also required for what is driving the habit. Acknowledgment and appreciation of the self is important.
adapted from source: Kristin Neff, PhD