top of page

Why HSPs are Their Own Worst Critic: Understanding Self-Compassion for Highly Sensitive People

sad dog meme

HSPs are way harder on ourselves than on the other people in our life. # Facts. But why are we our own worse critic?

Possibly because we know we are going to replay our mistakes over and over (and over), we tend to be hard on ourself to avoid the need for the harsh rehash in the first place. What's funny is that if our friend, family member, or coworker makes that same mistake, we typically give them grace. FOR. THE. EXACT. SAME. MISTAKE.


As HSPs, we often compare ourselves to others, but we usually see only the surface-level aspects of their lives. This can result in a skewed perspective where we perceive others as more successful or capable, which then makes us critical of our own perceived shortcomings.


The fear of being judged by others (even strangers) can lead HSPs to constantly evaluate ourselves. This can keep us playing small and trying to avoid being "seen."

This might show up in the form of not raising our hand when we know the answer, not putting our name on a comment card, not speaking up when we disagree, or even something as simple as not entering our banana bread into a bake-off (and my banana bread is pretty darn good, if I don't say so myself. The key is to add one more banana than the recipe calls for and making sure the bananas are overripe.)


Although HSPs are very perceptive of others, we are more attuned to our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors than we are to those of others. This heightened awareness and intuition can magnify our mistakes and perceived inadequacies. That magnification can put our tiny mistakes on blast. What might be something that a non-HSP laughs off, an HSP might ruminate on it for days. (or weeks, or months, or years. Have you met me?)


HSPs often feel a greater sense of personal responsibility for their own actions and choices, which can lead to self-blame when things go wrong. On the other hand, we may be more likely to attribute other people's mistakes to external factors.


While we might offer kindness and understanding to others when they make mistakes, HSPs can struggle to extend the same level of compassion to ourselves. When we are our own worst critic, self-compassion can be the antidote. Self-compassion (aka Self-love) means treating yourself with the same understanding and acceptance as we would give to a friend.

Self-approval includes talking to ourselves the way we would talk to a friend (and would we call our friend "stupid" or "no good"? I think you know the answer.) If you have the bad habit of being really harsh to yourself, next time you notice yourself saying "I am such an idiot", imagine overhearing your bestie saying that to themself. How shocking (and heartbreaking) would that be. Umm, now turn that around on yourself.

manatee meme about being hard on yourself


Many HSPs hold themselves to extremely high standards or have perfectionist tendencies. We can set unrealistic or unattainable goals and then beat ourselves up for not reaching them, where we might be more understanding and forgiving when evaluating other people's performance (FOR. THE. VERY. SAME. THING.) If you didn't catch my email on perfectionism, you can check out this blog.

We are way harder on ourselves than on the other people in our life (HSPs tend to give everyone else a pass)


Have I convinced you to practice being kinder to yourself and not feel so judged all the time?


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page