Dear Inner Critic, Thank You

Each one of us has an inner critic that shames us into thinking that we are not worthy of love, success, acceptance—you name it. The comments from the inner critic range from you are not smart enough, you are not beautiful, to you never do anything right, and so on.

Some inner critics are so prominent that they hijack our thoughts and cause depression, eating disorders, and self-loathing. They convince us that we should not try anything new because we will fail anyway. The inner critics, if not checked, can drive us into living life below our potentials, in the constant pain of self-induced stress.

When I decided that depression and eating disorders were not my cup of tea, I evicted my inner critic. I said thank you for your contribution, but I’ll take it from here. I decided to accept myself as I am in each moment, focusing on kindly improving myself without the harsh criticism that pushed me back instead of encouraging me to move forward.

Writing Thank You, Me was a step in this process. My inner critic still sat on the sidelines, jeering that the book was not good enough—never would be good enough. But I continued with it and savored the experience of learning along the way. The joy was in the journey, not the destination, and evicting my critic made the journey much more enjoyable.

If we consciously direct our inner thoughts to be like a conversation with a good friend, our lives become much more enjoyable. We can be honest with ourselves when our actions need correction, but we can do so with kindness, compassion, patience, and understanding.

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Image source: an early concept during my design work for the book Zen Moments. In Buddhism, a lotus flower is revered for its ability to emerge from the murky pond waters and bloom into a beautiful flower—a process that symbolizes the attaining of enlightenment. While this illustration was not chosen for the book Zen Moments, I felt that it fit in here. If we can overcome the murky waters created by our inner critics, we can emerge and bloom like the lotus flower.

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