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You know that annoying Inner Critic? How do you silence it for good?

Updated: Mar 7, 2023


Excerpt from Decide Happy, Chapter 8:

Be Gentle with Yourself



One of my happy places is my Saturday morning painting class. A dozen of us put aside our errands and to-do’s for a few hours to drink coffee, catch up on each other’s lives, and paint. One day, as I contemplated how strange noses look up close, I heard Jennifer mumbling to herself from behind her canvas.

“Oh this is awful. This is terrible! I’ve just wrecked 40 hours of work.” She continued to grumble, her voice charged and critical. I set my brush down, and walked around to look at this “travesty” sitting on her easel.


It was stunning, of course.


In front of me was a beautiful New England harbor scene, with the sunrise colors spreading out over the water. I could practically hear the fishermen as they pulled in their haul and swatted each others’ backs, celebrating their bounty. The seagulls hovering nearby looked like they would fly from the canvas as they darted at the fish spilling over the boat’s deck.

“What are you talking about, Jen?” I asked. “You’ve captured the colors, the mood, the aliveness of the moment beautifully!”


“No,” she shook her head definitively. “I’m going to throw this away and start over.”


My fellow painters quickly chimed in. For the next few minutes we alternately encouraged her and threatened to throw ourselves bodily between her and the trash can. Finally, she promised she would step away from the painting, take a deep breath, and come back to finish the scene another day.


Why is the loudest voice in our head often that D#*N Inner Critic?


Jennifer was about to scrap a beautiful work of art, all because of that nasty voice in her head. The Inner Critic shackles us with doubt, thwarts our courage and steals our joy. Think of how many things we don’t do, or throw away, because that inner critic says, “It’s not good enough.”

Let’s revisit Decide Happy’s definition of happiness:


The world needs us to be our most loving, calm, moving forward, contributing best. We can’t possibly experience happiness and live life to the fullest if we are berating ourselves and whittling away at our own sense of self-esteem.

The best way to silence the critic?


Quit allowing it so much air time.

  • Remind yourself who’s the boss of you - YOU!

When you hear that nagging voice in your head, shut it down FAST! The faster you do this, the better you will get at nipping it quickly. Let that voice run roughshod and you may actually start believing it. There's a post it note on the laptop I use to write that reads, “Silence the Inner Critic and trust that it will flow.” It’s right above the one that says, “Just Freaking WRITE!!!”


Redirect the critic with a better question.

  • Instead of saying, “I can’t,” ask “What if…?”

  • Instead of “It won’t work,” ask yourself “How can I make this work?”

Social media only heightens the self-perception that we’re “not good enough.” We see the accolades, adventures and milestones on social media and think, “Wow, I thought I was doing okay but, compared to what I see Amanda, and Jim, and Chris doing - I’m a real slacker.”


But what we are really seeing is an illusion.

How often do we hear about the pop star or entrepreneur who is heralded as an “over night” success, only to learn that they slugged through years of rejection, criticism and hard work to achieve their goal? We see the culmination of years of hard work and experience, but not the sacrifice, frustration and plain old hard work leading up to it.

Comparing yourself to others who appear to have it all is

an HOV lane to unhappiness.


I see the published author with three best-selling books, a TED talk with 9 million hits and think,“Who am I to think I can do this? I could never do that. I’m not good enough, young enough, experienced enough, connected enough..…”


And then I stop, challenge that thought and ask a better question: Why not me? Because the truth is, I am more than enough.


And so are you.


You are a miracle, on your own unique journey, with your own gifts to bring to the world. Who else, in the entire history of human kind, has your story, your personality, your exact series of decisions and life experiences?


No one, that’s who. Only you.


Only you are the compilation of multiple generations of genetic lottos dating back thousands of years, combined with never-before experiences at this specific, unique time in history.

Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.


The world needs us to be our most loving, calm, moving forward, contributing best.

The world needs us to stop second guessing ourselves and let our light shine.


On any day, at any moment, you can decide.


Susan



* Thank you again sylviaduckworth.com for permission to use your brilliant

Iceberg Illusion graphic!


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