Saturday, February 22, 2014

My Inner Critic


“We are meant to be different. When we accept this, there is no competition and no comparison. To try to be like another is to shrivel our soul. We have come to this planet to express who we are.”


Louise Hay

“One of the greatest fears you’ll confront is that you may not have any real value to offer others. As you begin to dump such brainwashing, you’ll soon recognize that you have the ability to provide enormous value to others and that people will gladly pay you for it.”

Steve Pavlina

I struggle with my inner critic.  This is my anti-Muse.  I can never, ever please it.  Ever.  No matter what I do, it’s wrong.  Where did it come from?  The quick and easy answer is that it came from my parents, the church, society, the media, teachers, and friends or those who were posing as friends.  But it doesn't really come from any of those places.  More on this later.  
            The inner critic tells girls in order to be beautiful they have to weigh 98 pounds and perfect measurements.  The inner critic is the one who says that what I’m writing is self-indulgent garbage that no one wants to read.  The inner critic tells me I’m too old, too young, too thin, too bald, too late, too undisciplined, too….
The inner critic also tells me I’m not enough.  I’m not smart enough, not good enough, or not diligent enough.  One of the most effective tricks of the inner critic is to compare me with someone else who is doing much “better.”  There seems to be no argument to that.  Until we realize the person we’re being compared to has his or her own inner critic saying the same things. 
Here’s the thing: the inner critic isn’t right…or necessarily wrong.  What the inner critic is throwing my way are opinions, not facts. Facts can be right or wrong.   Opinions, by definition, are never wrong.  They are just ideas. My opinions may be based on incorrect facts and thus cause me to form certain ideas or beliefs. 
For example, I was once waiting to get my car fixed.  My oldest daughter was with me and I wanted to get her to a church function by 6:00 and it was getting later and later.  My stress level was increasing.  Finally, at 6:10 they were done.  I was nearly apoplectic with frustration because I didn’t want my daughter to miss the event.  I raced to the church, practically livid at every slow driver and red light.  We finally got there and the church was dark and closed.  The event wasn’t that night.  It was for the next week.  I felt like an idiot.  Not only had I made a factual error, I had created all kind stress for my daughter and me.
I wish I could say I learned my lesson right then and there, but I still make mistakes like this. 
To keep me calm, I started taking fish oil about a week ago because I heard it helps with ADHD.  It’s too soon to tell, but it seems to be working.  I’m starting to slow down a little and not get as stressed as usual, but I still have triggers, such as being late or technology that doesn’t work.  And the inner critic is still there.  I don’t think all the vitamins and medication in the world will stop the inner critic.  So what do I do?  I see only one option.
I ignore it and do my work.  The busier I am, the quieter it gets.  It knows my weaknesses and knows how to exploit them, but when I’m in Purpose, I have no weaknesses, just points of growth.  My weaknesses are only weaknesses when I don’t allow them to teach me.  When I do, they are strengths.  They become my strengths. 
(Now I digress.  When I wrote the last three sentences, I was so pleased with “My weaknesses are only weaknesses when I don’t allow them to teach me.  When I do, they are strengths,” that I decided to put this on Facebook.  Then I thought should I say “strengths” or “my strengths?”   Would the word “my” make it to self-absorbed?  I put my and then decided it was too indulgent.  The inner critic was immediately attacking me.   Even while I’m working, it doesn’t completely go away.  So I work harder.  And I ignore it.)
If I don’t ignore my inner critic I will never get anything done.  This morning, for example, I was hesitant to write.  I didn’t have any ideas (I rarely do) and the inner critic was saying, “Why are you doing this?  Do you really think anyone cares what you are saying?”   Still I sat down and started writing.  The inner critic hates it when I do my work.  It can’t fight that for very long.   It hates something else more.  It hates my Muse.  The inner critic dreads my work because it knows that as long as I sit here and write, or paint, or dance, or create lesson plans, or practice my guitar or my pitching or my yoga, that the Muse will come and rescue me.  The inner critic hates and fears my Muse.  The inner critic cannot be in the same room as the Muse.  Above all, the inner critic is a bully and a coward.
Bullies and cowards always run when we stand up for ourselves, or in my case, sit down for myself.  I’m sitting down for myself and for all my readers.  I’m sitting down for my Muse.  I’m serving her and the world and me.  That’s another thing the inner critic hates.  It hates when we serve others.  It hates when we serve a greater good.  It hates when we get our eyes off ourselves and start loving others. 
Where does the inner critic come from?  It comes from me.  Yes, it echoes all the critical voices of the past, like an old worn-out recording, but it is not those voices.   It is me, or a part of me at least.  I am the inner critic.  So I ignore that part of me.  I acknowledge its presence with respect and even gratitude, but then I do my work.  If it speaks up as I do my work, I acknowledge it again and then I keep working.  Above all else, I cannot stop.  I need to Get Started and Keep Going….despite and because of my inner critic.