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You Are Enough

“I sound like an idiot.”  “I’m not trying hard enough.”  “I’m not writing anything interesting.”  “I’m not doing enough good for society.”  “I should be a better [mom/daughter/wife/friend/employee/boss/citizen].”

I never knew what to call this silent-but-mighty voice until I started reading and learning more about psychology, interacting with more coaches, and reading more self-helpy stuff.  I can now proudly name this voice: it’s my inner critic And just because I can now name it doesn’t mean it’s gone for good.  Never friendly and often downright attacking, this is the part of me that loves to judge everything I say and do and even think.  I don’t always even realize it’s there right away, but when I do, I want to beat it away with a stick.

It thankfully isn’t there all the time, but today it showed up.  I read an article by a woman who has achieved dazzling things at a very young age.  She’s traveling the world and giving talks to famous people and writing book after book.  Mid-way through the article, my inner critic crept in, telling me that I shouldn’t even try to write (FOR FUN) because I’ll never be able to write like her.  This is similar to the inner critic who has told me in the past that I should be feeding the homeless in my spare time, and that I’m a terrible daughter for not living a stone’s throw from my parents.

And then suddenly, out of the blue, I listened to this voice as if I were listening to one of my children. What if one of my them told me they didn’t want to paint anymore because their pictures are ugly…even if they have joy in their eyes when their brush hits the paper?  What if one of them refused to build because their towers always fall down?  Or what if one didn’t want to speak up in school because they thought their ideas might sound stupid.  I would feel SO VERY SAD if I ever heard these words come out of their bright and capable little bodies, and I realized today, they would feel SO VERY SAD if they ever heard the words come out of mine.

That little escape from the moment was enough to get rid of my inner critic today.  I’m not sure if it’s what the experts recommend, but it certainly worked for me.  And shortly thereafter, I serendipitously read an article written by a guy named Drew Hoolhorst who talks about his grandfather teaching him to write “just because.”  Here’s an excerpt that resonated with me:

“It should be enough to know that when you write something, anything, it’s like a lottery ticket. Someone could read it and could laugh uncontrollably for the best of reasons. Someone could read it and become violently angry at your view on something (or your “non-view” for that matter). Someone could read it and feel absolutely nothing.  And any one of those things is spectacular.  Because, that’s the “because.” Write just to write. It’s healthy…”

So if you have an inner critic, acknowledge it for what it is.  Figure out how to deal with it.  And work hard at it.  Here are a few good reads on the concept of inner critic if you’re interested:

How to Manage Your Inner Critic (HBR)

How to Silence Your Inner Critic (O Magazine)

Silencing Your Inner Critic (Wall Street Journal)

And on a final note, an effort called The World Needs More Love Letters posted this one recently.  A beautiful reminder that YOU ARE ENOUGH.

inner critic love letter

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Thanks for this. I needed it today.

    July 31, 2013
  2. Glad it helped, Stephanie. Thanks for the comment!

    August 1, 2013
  3. Beth #

    Wow – this is powerful! Exactly what I need to hear right now in this moment. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    May 27, 2014

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