Tag Archives: bravery

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

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

The inner critic. The voice of negativity. The saboteur. Many names describe the self-defeating person inside our heads. It attempts with one rushing thought after another to tear us apart, tear our dreams and hopes apart, and leave us in tatters.

Just when we begin to feel good about a project we’re working on, the inner critic strikes with a sneak attack, dampening our mood and making us question everything. When we stop creating to question every little detail, we make our project appear more complicated than it should be, and this may prompt us to stop working altogether.

We try to be positive, but the inner critic still looms over our heads, sometimes powerful and ominous, squashing our feeble attempts to silence it right away.

As a writer, I’ve experienced the voice of negativity on multiple occasions:

“You’re a terrible writer.”

“Why can’t you describe this better?”

“You’re such a slow writer.”

“No one would read this. What’s wrong with you?”

“You’ll never succeed as a writer.”

These thoughts come cascading one after the other, sometimes freezing my fingers from typing anything new on the keyboard. I almost lose my desire to write and search to direct my energies into some other outlet. What if my inner critic was right? What if I was wasting my time writing? What if nobody would ever read my works?

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The saboteur doesn’t just strike at my writing. It harasses me about other aspects in my life: family, work, relationships, and my dreams to travel the world, start organizations to help vulnerable youth, and someday create my own media company. With all these ambitious dreams, my inner critic works overtime to make me feel unworthy, unprepared, and unequipped to find success in my endeavors and my life overall.

After months of meditation and self-introspection, I’ve come to realize what’s keeping in the claws of my saboteur; what stops me from being consistent in working toward my lifelong goals and dreams. My inner critic reflects and gives voice to the deep subconscious fears resting in the darkest caverns of my mind. According to psychologists, painful experiences in childhood such as trauma or experiences with hurtful attitudes toward us help form the inner critic. Without taking the time to pinpoint and separate ourselves from this inner critic, we may allow it to sabotage different areas in our lives.

I found that by identifying my fears, I could shut up my inner critic once and for all and replace it with a more self-affirming voice. My inner critic can no longer swallow me whole and trap me in despair and zombie living.

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

Here are the first two fears out of four that I’ve confronted:

1. Fear in disappointing my parents.

Being careless with our mental care can allow parents to mess us up. A lot.

Sometimes most of the things holding us back from achieving what we are made to achieve is fear of our parents. We fear letting them down. We fear upsetting them. We fear making their worst nightmares about us come true. We fear their disapproval. We fear losing their support, maybe even their love. We have these great fears because our great love for them.

For some, our parents are a huge part of our lives, especially if we’re the children of immigrants or come from a culture with very strong family ties. This fear, however, can potentially be mentally unhealthy and constricting, and can stop us from taking the risks and steps necessary to achieve the goals, dreams, and vision we have for our lives.

In my life, for example, my parents don’t regard writing as valuable unless it’s tied to a more prestigious profession such as law or public policy. I respect these sectors but for now I want to write fiction, personal essays, and uplifting words that can help others in mental, emotional, and spiritual ways. To me, it’s not always about the income, but about the freedom of self-expression.

Overcoming the fear of disappointing my parents and what they think of me isn’t always easy. It takes hard work and practice in the form of deep introspection, revisiting hurtful past events, and seeing my parents as humans with their own fears, dreams, weaknesses, and strengths.

Parents are not perfect gods. They’re imperfect people who sometimes fear for us in ways that may feel more overbearing to some than others. We know they love us, but some parents have a hard time letting go, and it’s so important they know how to do that.

For us with parents unable to let go, we need to take the first step and jump out to the road waiting before us. This takes bravery, but we all have the courage to do so.

Image courtesy of Vlado at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Vlado at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

To wrap this one up, the inner critic can manifest itself as the imagined voice of my parents telling me I can’t do this or do that because I may end up hurting their dreams for me. However, by better understanding this one fear supplying the material for my saboteur, I can shut it down right away without taking the time to dwell on what it has to say to me.

I can say, “I know where I’m going, and I’m going to make it. And when I do, I’ll find ways to make my parents happier than they’ve ever been.”

2. Fear of rejection.

This one is a real doozy. I fear rejection. One more time. I. Fear. Rejection. It’s embarrassing having to admit this but unless we admit our fears, we won’t be able to tackle them. I fear rejection from friends, people I like and admire, readers of my writing, and so on.

Fear of rejection sometimes stops me from engaging with people I find really interesting because I’m afraid they won’t accept me or my quirks. I’m horribly sarcastic, introverted, and extremely mellow, unless I’m excited about something, and then I’m hyperactive. I have this tendency of thinking people won’t get me so my inner critic pops up with these expressions to paralyze me:

“People think you’re weird.”

“You’re boring.”

“Why don’t you have anything interesting to say?”

“Why would anyone like someone like you?”

“You’re a terrible person and should stay away from people.”

The results of listening to this inner critic? I isolate myself and spend long swaths of time alone, which hurts my chest and head because the loneliness is real.

Image courtesy of khunaspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of khunaspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Studies show that loneliness does serious damage to your physical health: lonely people are twice as likely to catch colds; four times more likely to have a heart attack, and four times more likely to die from it. Loneliness negatively impacts your immune system and bolsters genetic activity tied to inflammation, a risk factor for heart disease and cancer! This refers to loneliness alone, not depression. Furthermore, loneliness should not be confused with being alone which is perfectly all right.

I have moments where I’m more than comfortable with being alone, immersed in my work, meditating, or walking around, people watching. However, the saboteur emerges at times when I feel lonely to make sure I stay that way. It also stops me from working on a project because I’m supposedly the worst writer in the world and people will hate my writing.

Knowing my inner critic gets its juice from my fear of rejection helps me find counterattacks to the five negative statements above:

  • Who cares if people think I’m weird. Some people don’t think so and others don’t care. They’re the ones who matter to me. Also, I like being weird.
  • I’m not a clown. I was not made to entertain people all the time.
  • I like breaks in conversation. As an introvert, I value breaks in conversation because too much talking can become overwhelming. I like time to process. It’s who I am.
  • Why would anyone not like me? Next.
  • Yeah, I mess up, but I know I am a compassionate being and seek to do no harm to others.

The inner critic may appear innocent at first, but without proper supervision, it can grow into a beast ruining our lives. As with anything negative thought pattern or behavior we see ourselves succumbing to, it’s always important to dig deeper to find the roots. Without doing so, we may only have surface level solutions that work only for the short term.

How about you? How do you deal with your inner critic? 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!

Forget What You Heard

Be reborn

Forget What You Heard

They handed me a picture

And I looked at it and frowned

My heart dropped so fast

Thoughts running around

‘Bout this girl and her hair,

Falling down her shoulders

With her eyes so big

And her smile so bright,

You’d think they would’ve known her

But they never do

That’s just how they do it in Oz

No pause

To hear

To see

To feel

‘Cause they do it like they want to

Taking everything from you

They talk like they’re blind

But these sharpshooters

They always aim so high

With their targets on your back

Before they pull the trigger, you better figure

Are you slave, are you fighter

Are you sleeping, are you sowing

‘Cause she knew who she was

A girl in a costume, ‘bout ready to lose her mind

Straddling three to four worlds, no peace in them to find

That hair was not a crown, but the mark of the beast

With 66 names, one name for each stab

That they left up on her back

They walked all around her, walking on by

On the day that she died, alone on the ground

Murdered by the insight of the darkness within

Cornered by their dogma that had finally closed in

Killing whatever heaven she wished she could’ve built

So I’m telling you now, forget what you heard

You don’t know the story

If you got it from them

These lies don’t make it better

These secrets are what had killed her

This girl in this picture with the note on the back

“Born in ‘87, Dead at 27.”

The Story of Teeny and Babby: The Shelf

There once was a doll, lovely, short, and pink. She called herself Teeny and lived on a shelf. Teeny always sat on the shelf and looked through her big blue eyes at the world around her—a world so familiar that it had grown weary and gray. Teeny sighed often and wished she could get off that shelf and see a whole new world. But it was impossible for Teeny. The shelf was very high and the new world was so far far away. Teeny believe she would never leave and this made her cry tears so big that her whole face became pinker and wet. Someone heard Teeny cry. It was the miniature picnic basket that contained four sweets, making this basket, called Babby, the sweetest thing on Teeny’s shelf, maybe her whole world. Babby asked Teeny why she was crying.

Teeny said, “I want to leave this world, but it’s impossible.”

Babby looked down. “It’s true. It’s a big jump down and an even longer way out the door toward the new world. But I want to go too. So let’s go!”

“How?” Teeny asked.

Babby came close to Teeny and rubbed its square head on her arm. “We jump of course.”

“But we’ll break!”

“Don’t worry, we won’t break. Believe.”

Teen looked down and felt very afraid, but she wanted to go. She nodded her head. “We jump.”

So Teeny and Babby jumped off the shelf, way down to the ground. Teeny was okay, but Babby was broken open and all the sweets spilled out of him.

“Babby! Babby! Are you okay?”

Babby groaned. “Of course I’m not okay, you fool! Don’t you see I’m broken? This is all your fault. Get away from me you ugly, stupid doll! I’ll never be whole again.”

Babby’s words hurt Teeny’s heart, but she didn’t cry. She knew it was because he had lost all his sweetness. Teeny picked up the sweets and put them back in Babby’s basket. She shut him close.

“Babby, are you okay now?”

Babby turned left and turned right, then he looked down at his sweets. “You put them all wrong inside of me, but that’s okay. Let’s go see the new world!”

Teeny smiled. “Yes, let’s go.”

So Teeny and Babby ventured out of the room toward the new world. They stopped at the stairs.

Teeny sighed. “How far can we go?”

Image

‘The end?