If you’re up to big things in this world, you probably have your fair share of critics.
You should know, the more committed you get to your growth and the pursuit of your purpose on this planet, the louder and more opinionated those critics become.
I know Brene and Teddy Roosevelt say, “it’s not the critic who counts” and I’m on board with this big time…mostly. If our focus is constantly on what the critics say, we get disillusioned and we stop or never start taking action toward what we want and what we are worth. The rest of the world misses out on the important, meaningful work we were designed to do. The thing is, I’m learning that the critics (kind of) do count after all.
The reason I believe the critics count, isn’t because I want us to subscribe to or become crippled by their bullshit story lines. But their opinions and prophecies matter SO. DAMN. MUCH to us, am I right? And anytime something/ someone elicits a reaction in this way, it’s offering us important information. And if information is power, then the power our critics offer is a clear representation of what our greatest critic of all has to say.
She’s the inner critic and her input is either just that or it’s holding us back in dangerously manipulative ways. She’s the one who’s taken up residence inside our heart and psyche. And all the other critics are just validating her gospel of unworthiness.
As I’ve spent the last year actively creating a new way of being, I’ve started to study my critics closely.
What are they saying, why are they saying it and how is it affecting me? Most importantly, why is it so important to me?
By examining why the critics trigger me the way they do, I get a WHOLE lot closer to the only critic who actually counts. And now that I know her very well, I get to go on creating because that’s what we are all here to do (and I’m no exception). As for the others…well, they only count because they teach me about her and that’s where our relationship begins and ends.
So now that we know why the critics count here’s what I’m learning (in real time) about the inner critic.
1. Your critic’s opinion is not the truth.
- “Look at all the people around you doing it better than you, more successfully than you. “
- “It only was ONE accolade- it will probably never happen again.”
- “Look at all the other mothers doing ALL the things, while you’re barely surviving the day- you’re definitely f***ing your kids up. “
- “You’ve been at this for years, you should be further by now.”
- “So you got published- it was a stroke of luck not your new norm.”
- “He doesn’t want to date you because your thighs touch.”
- “You can’t get pregnant because you wouldn’t be a good mom.”
I don’t need to know yours intimately to know that she’s ruthless and I certainly don’t need to hear the exact words to know that she’s lying. Mine is a very chatty, mean girl with ALL kinds of opinions on my appearance, abilities and worthiness.
Let her rattle on- and then say something or write something, better yet- go out and DO something that is true and right to you.
2. Your critic will wear any mask and speak in any voice that she thinks you’ll listen to.
She might sound like the voice of a parent or look like the profile photo of that “friend” in the group or member of the family who always has something negative to say or input that makes you feel small.
Maybe your gift is feeling deep, powerful soul shaking feelings- and your critic thinks that’s self indulgent and it takes on the voice of your father. Don’t shallow yourself, go deeper.
Maybe your gift is intuitive observation- seeing people as they truly are for their unique, beautiful, suppressed gifts and greatest assets. Your critic tells you to stop over-analyzing, reading into everything and to definitely stop talking about it- no one cares. See the humans more deeply, share more freely.
Your critic will dress up as anyone who has historically convinced you that you aren’t worthy, that you should stop. Don’t stop.
3. Your critic will be louder some days than others- more credible and consistent.
Some days her performance will be Oscar-winning and extremely convincing.
But she’s not the voice of reason so stop acting like she is- stop acquiescing. She represents your deepest rooted insecurities and limiting beliefs. She’s the programming you received as a child and conditioning you’ve adopted from societal standards. She represents the things you get to address and acknowledge- but she’s not an excuse to stand still.
She’s an ever present reminder of how small life becomes when you don’t take another step toward your potential.
Let the critic do her thing.
See her for who she is…and then do the brave right thing any way. Take another step that defies her limiting belief. Make a move that flies in the face of her fears and doubts. And then go again.