Louis, a person new to psychotherapy, was referred to me by his doctor, who picked up on the fact that Louis appeared to be particularly self-deprecating and did not miss an opportunity to describe a failure or a negative experience in which he believed himself to be the likely cause. Physical symptoms as well as self-esteem issues were among the consequences of Louis's way of relating to himself.
Currently, there is considerable research being done in the area of what is being called "self-compassion," i.e. how kindly people view themselves. It is commonly observed that many people are much more understanding, tolerant, and supportive of others than they ever are of themselves. When I hear a client being self-critical or without self-compassion, I will frequently ask how they imagine they might have responded to the identical situation if it involved their child or other close relative or friend instead of them. Not surprisingly, words of support and understanding flow freely from their lips, but not when they are the person in question.