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How to Win Against and Be Free From Your Worst Enemy: Your Inner Critic. Part II

Image courtesy of criminalatt at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of criminalatt at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Howdy Folks

Hope you all had a great weekend and had fun celebrating Mother’s Day with your lovely Mamas. I know I had a wonderful time with mine. 🙂

In part one of this series, I talked about how I was able to shut down my inner critic by identifying the fears giving my saboteur the ammo it needed to tear me down and keep me down. To quickly recap, the first two fears were fear of disappointing my parents and fear of rejection.

Today, I want to talk about the next fear supplying my inner critic: fear of others perceiving me as a failure. I’m taking time to talk about these fears because they are the root causes of most of the negativity in life.

By shifting the focus of our minds away from our fears and their illusions, we can adopt more self-affirming mindsets, ones that will help us move forward to achieving our goals, dreams, and ultimately, the visions we have for our lives.

3. Fear of others perceiving me as failure.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I never liked being the sort of person who cared heavily about what others thought of her, but growing up, I was taught to be mindful of how others perceived me and making sure people had a highly favorable view of me in terms of my academics, manners, attitude, and work ethic.

It’s one of the reasons why I place a very high value on kindness. I easily fall for kind people. No, seriously. If you’re a kind person, I will love you. Guaranteed. Notice I said kind, not nice. Nice people scare me because I can’t shake off that they’re hiding some sinister secret or plan to hurt me some in way. But that’s another topic for next time.

Also, I can’t stand rudeness, and being around rude people makes me physically sick. It’s obvious in the lines on my forehead and the way my nose twitches as if I’ve just smelled rotten eggs and the way I blink repeatedly. If you’re a rude person, you’ll most likely never see me unless you change. If I sorta like you, I’ll let you know whether something you did was rude. If I don’t like you at all and you make an ass of yourself, I’ll just quickly make my exit because you should know better, especially if you’re an adult.

I’m also big on manners and proper etiquette for dining, meeting new people, working, navigating public spaces, and so on. I’m more relaxed when I’m around family and close friends, but I can be a bit of stiff and standoffish around strangers. That’s just part of my character as an introvert who needs to know a person better before trusting her or him or them. But I’m hoping I can learn to be more open to new people. Again, that’s another topic.

Now, all of this seems harmless and common sense even. Don’t be rude. Be kind. Work hard. Choose peace, not violence. However, as a kid growing up with very high expectations from family to succeed academically and career-wise, I warped this thinking into an incredibly unhealthy level.

I didn’t just want people to perceive me as good kid, but rather as the kid who was perfect in every way.

Photo cred: RYAN MCGUIRE
Photo cred: Ryan McGuire

Trying my hardest to be this perfect kid throughout middle, high school, and most of college really hurt me in emotional and mental ways, possibly triggering my depression and occasional thoughts of suicide. If people saw me as a failure, then, in my head, I wasn’t worthy in any way.

This fear of others perceiving me as a failure created an onslaught of negative images, thoughts, and dialogues in my mind; these destructive thoughts crippled me most of the time and made me feel worthless from time to time. These feelings of worthlessness stopped me from performing at my best and stunted my spiritual and emotional growth.

The truth was that my worth was not tied to how well I performed academically or professionally, or how well I pleased people with my behavior. Worth comes from within not from without. Until I realized my worth and the worth of my dreams and vision for my life, then I wouldn’t be free from the hell of living for other people’s approval. That was not how I wanted to live my one life here on this Earth.

So, in the face of all my failures trying to get my book published, not getting that high paying job I thought my impressive educational credentials would bring, and not getting into the PhD program I so desperately wanted, I’ve decided to keep fighting. To never give up working to achieve my dreams for a more stable, but predictable life or give in to the lies of my fears and my inner critic.

I absolutely refuse to follow a script prepared for me. I cannot. I have to go where I believe my instincts want me to go. It makes for a rather difficult, but satisfying life. Of course I have regrets, but I’m still pretty young and want to focus on moving forward. The process is where I want to be, not the past, and not even the future. This moment right now is what matters the most, writing this article and revealing one of my deepest fears.

I don’t believe I was put on this earth to blindly follow instructions made from another or from a previous time. I believe I have to create my own instructions with ingredients borrowed from my parents, siblings, extended family, friends, experiences, teachers, books, religions, philosophies, and even strangers I have met along the way.

Cause in the end, I'm just a bunny following her heart. Photo cred: Ryan McGuire
Cause in the end, I’m just a bunny following her heart. Photo cred: Ryan McGuire

This is how I live.

How about you? Have you ever had to deal with the fear of other people’s perceptions? Don’t be afraid and go ahead and share. I would love to hear your thoughts!

Stay amazing,

Sammy

If you found this article interesting or helpful, please share it with your family and friends!

Also, be sure to look out for my new e-book coming out soon: The Passionate Dreamer’s Notebook: For Those Who Refuse to Quit!

Get Over the Small Stuff And Live Better: #2 Commuter Rage vs. Commuter Peace

bus
Why are you always late?

It’s 8:05am. According to my trusty Google Maps app, the 66 Bus to Harvard Square should arrive around 8:13. I eye the Dunkin Donuts to the left of the bus stop and decide that I have enough time to grab a much needed cup of coffee if I am to face my students and not poke my eye out with a dry erase marker. I get my cup of coffee and return to the bus stop. I leave my coffee unopened because I remembered what happened last time I vied for a sip. While on the bus, the coffee spilled all over me in glorious fashion thanks to the most abrupt stops in the world. So I keep the top closed over the scalding black liquid.

It’s 18 degrees. Windy. A smatter of snowflakes falls to the ground. I bury my face in my black infinity scarf. My breath fogs up my glasses and I can’t see. I wipe the lenses my finger and quickly retreat in into the warmth of my gloves. Boston winters don’t play.

Despite the cold, I’m somewhat self-satisfied because I made it the bus stop early this morning, which means I’ll have thirty glorious minutes to do some prep and relax before my classes start at 9am. I smile, a miracle considering it’s morning, and I hate mornings with the fiery passion of a million burning suns. I check the time:

8:15am. Um, okay so the bus is a little late.

8:25am. What the hell is going on? Seriously, why can’t MBTA get its sh** together! Do they know that people need to get to work? Why the hell would they increase the damn fare if they can’t even get buses on the street? I crane my neck and look out for the bus every three seconds.

8:27am. The bus arrives and it’s full to the max, people sandwiched together, touching each other so close that faces are rubbing against faces. I think how there’s no way I’ll be able to get in. Bam! The driver doesn’t allow me in. Just as I thought. I want to hurl my bag into the brick building behind me.

About ready to hitch a ride like these guys.

8:31am. A second bus arrives and it’s just as full. Eff this! I make my way to the back entrance and enter, making space where none exists. I look at the seats longingly but know it’ll be impossible to get a seat. I stand for the whole bus ride, thinking endlessly about how I’ll be late for work. Traffic is bad.

I’m late for work.

My head curses enough to shame a sailor and sends out rays upon rays of negative energy into the air. I hate Boston. I hate the MBTA. I hate the traffic. I HATE EVERYTHING.

All of this negative thinking ends up creating a terrible day.

Pause.

Rewind to 8:15am. The bus is late. It’s okay. I won’t be late for work today, however.

The bus arrives at 8:23am. It’s full but I can get it in, and I won’t even have to stand long because I’ll get a seat soon. I get into the bus and one stop later, a lady steps off and I claim her seat. I sit comfortably in the crowded bus. My mind is at peace and I focus on the music pouring into my ears from my headphones. I’m not worried. I’ll get to work on time. Not as early as I wanted to, but I won’t be late.

8:50am. I get to work with ten minutes to spare. I have a great day.

Both these accounts are true stories. In the first scenario, my mind was full of negative thinking and anger, and it ruined my whole day. When I decided to shift my thinking away from negativity and anger, my world changed, as if responding to my mind.

Don’t underestimate the power of the mind to influence your world. I realized that we all make a choice to accept negativity and reinforce it or reject it by stating affirmative statements and thus, driving negativity away.

Try shifting your thinking at any point in a bad day and let me know what happens.

What are some things you do to get over commuter rage?

Stay amazing,

Sammy

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Also, check out: Get Over the Small Stuff And Live Better: #1 Late Text Replies