When you treat yourself with compassion, you take care. You mind your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health. You are kind in the face of mistakes and blunders. You have patience with yourself and your efforts.
When you’re cruel to yourself you demand better, no matter how good what you’ve just done is. When you’re cruel to yourself you set impossibly high standards and have momentous expectations. And you set them knowing full well that they cannot be reached and maintained. When you’re cruel to yourself, you don’t tolerate mistakes or laziness or inaction.
To nurture and propel yourself to your fullest potential you need both. Compassion alone is not enough to keep you climbing when the world is trying to get you to stop. Cruelty alone will make you suffer and eventually, stop. Not quit. Quitting is temporary. Unceasing cruelty will make you stop altogether. It will bring destruction. But a constant cycling of the two will work wonders.
Sometimes you need a carrot to strive for. Sometimes you need a stick to flee. Sometimes you need a shoulder to cry on. Sometimes you need a fist to hit you in the gut. But over time, you’ll find that the most effective combination is to be both cruel and compassionate to yourself.