Sometimes, I have friends ask me why I am so hard on myself. The answer is not a particularly long one, but it might take time to explain: I think it is worthy to strive to be a more ideal version of oneself.
To unpack that principle, I want to first speak to worthiness. I don’t know about other people, but I like to analyze why I feel the way I do when I have a strong feeling about something but don’t have an immediate logical answer. This is a process of self-discovery, sure, but I think it’s also like flexing the muscles of awareness and of logical-emotional connection — two things I am terrified might atrophy! (Well, maybe not terrified of them atrophying, per se, but I don’t think I would like the Dave who had, e.g., less awareness and/or less logical-emotional connection.) I feel guilt and regret when I have made a decision or taken an action and I feel it was “wrong”. But why do I feel this way? That led me to considering what outcomes at worthy, and to think of decisions/choices as a means to try to achieve those worthy ends.
I would even go so far as to say that for thinking free-willed beings, the essential purpose of choice is to have the opportunity to achieve a “good” path from among many alternatives (however the thinking being defines it).
So, how do I determine what ends are worthy? Well, I know I am not perfect – this I can determine via self-observation, and general feel, and even comparison to other individuals. So I identify areas in which I’d like to improve, often subconsciously, and predict-project a Dave who has made those improvements. This is a Better Me, a more ideal version of myself. I don’t like to think in terms of Best Me, or Ideal Dave, when I am making decisions. I kind of have a rough sketch of that guy in the back of my mind, but for choices, I always want to be moving toward a Better Me.
Yeah, doing this can make me hard on myself – sometimes shockingly so – but I think it’s worth it, and I think it’s the Right thing to do.