I have been terribly hard on myself over the course of my life. Often, unmercifully so. For most of my life I had the bad habit of "critiquing" each step I made, judging and over analyzing everything. It was like living with my own interior judge and jury. Not pleasant, let me tell you, since this judge and jury never took a break. Afraid of the devil? Who me? Worry about the "Accuser"? As if I had the time for him when I was so busy accusing myself! I didn't have much trouble being compassionate with others. I had difficulty being compassionate with myself.
After having myself as judge and jury for most of my life it sure was a relief when God started taking over the job. The funny thing is that I relinquished the reigns slowly. Did I think I was doing a better job than the King of Mercy would? Talk about pride! I'm not exactly sure what I was thinking. I think it had (and has) more to do with:
Pride and dethroning the god of self. Sooner or later everyone must get rid of the false gods they have set up for themselves. And the most difficult one to boot off the throne is the god of self. It's been a problem since the Garden of Eden and is certainly a huge problem today. Those who think they have escaped this aspect of the Fall are deceiving themselves. One of the biggest obstacles to becoming a saint is thinking you are one. The saints didn't think they were saints; they understood the depths of their fallen nature and their total dependency on God's mercy.
GOD'S mercy. Not their own. We are not as merciful as God. Not with ourselves, nor with others. Yes, many people have compassionate hearts but it cannot be compared to God's. Not even close. We can judge actions but not people. And this includes ourselves.Even when we prepare for Confession we are to ask for the light of the Holy Spirit and see our sins in HIS light, not our own. After all, we are going to Confession to confess our sins, not to confess our human nature. God is fully aware of our brokenness and seeks to HEAL us not to condemn us.
Those who "pick" on themselves are playing God. It's like saying to God, "I know what's wrong with me more than you do." Which isn't true, of course. He knows us through and through. The difference between when we try to accuse ourselves and when the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin is like night and day. Some of the signs to watch out for are these:
Scrupulosity - Been there, done that. Definitely not of God.
Confusion over sins - The Holy Spirit brings clarity. (Been here, too)
Despair or hopelessness - Satan's doing the accusing here. (Yep, here too)
Depression - This is an odd one. Obviously there are cases of physical depression, too, so this is a bit harder to discern. For those who don't normally battle depression this can be a good sign that we are trying to "outrun" the Holy Spirit rather than waiting for His light. (ditto)
Frustration - "This is ridiculous! It's impossible not to sin!" Well, of course. And God well knows this. Even the saints fell. (Need I comment?)
The Holy Spirit brings true sorrow...then peace.