Silence the Critic: What's the story you are telling yourself?
I do have a voice inside my head at times. She’s a little mean, a complete downer, and casts doubt on every good thing in my life. Her name is Myrna, and I have to kick her out of my life fairly often.
As a writer, inspiration comes and goes, but the words must be written anyway. I sit at my desk - or stand. Aren’t convertible desks amazing? I sit at my desk and type. From lists to long articles, I get the work done. Most days, that is. When Myrna is around, I delete entire passages that have potential. I stare at a blank screen. I go and clean out a closet to avoid writing. Myrna is a critic, and I don’t need her in my life.
Unfortunately, Myrna sounds an awful lot like my own voice. Those days are tough because I believe the lie that she is selling me. She lies about writing, parenting, God, and just about any other topic she can get her grubby little hands on.
“No one will read your words!”
“You think this is a good idea? That’s already been covered.”
“Who are you kidding? You are no expert.”
“Burn it to the ground. This is not your lane.”
“Could you sound any duller?”
“Your mistakes are ruining your kids.”
“You are too old to start something new.”
“The past defines you, so just give up.”
“Go it alone. You don’t need other people.”
On the good days, I recognize her petulant whine, and Myrna gets kicked to the curb. On the bad days, I get weary with fighting off her voice or fall into the trap of believing the lies. So, how do we recognize and silence the critic?
Recognize the Critic: It's all lies.
A good friend of mine always asks, “What’s the story you are telling yourself?”
It’s a great question because it makes you pause and reflect. Our inner critic does not get the last say when we confront the internal dialogue. Myrna is a coward after all; every critic is. In the face of direct eye contact and a few well-placed questions, the lies begin to emerge. The critic slinks away, and we find our footing to move forward.
When you find your inner critic poking about in your business, your relationships, or your heart, ask yourself these questions.
- What is the story I am telling myself?
- Is the story true, good, and kind?
- Did someone in my real life ever say this to me? If they did, how would I like to respond?
- Would I speak to someone like my critic is speaking to me?
- Who do I trust to speak the truth to me about this area of my life?
- What has God said about me, my work, my relationships?
- Is this story motivating or discouraging progress?
Tools to Rewrite the Story: It's all truth.
Over the years, I’ve developed a couple of tools in my kit to combat the critic. Feel free to use or adapt any of these to suit your purposes.
One of my favorites is the Words of Affirmation file I keep on my desktop. There is a more old-school version of this under my bed: a 3 ring binder. Both hold notes, quotes, prayers, and emails from people who have spoken kind encouragements into my life. Whether it was an affirmation of my work or my character, their words flow like a soothing balm over the bruises the critic leaves on my heart. I open those files often.
In addition, I’ve curated a list of scriptures that speak to the particular lies I tend to believe about myself. We all have our weaknesses, so each one of our lists may look a little different. God is a faithful Father and delights to speak love over His children.
Make a list of the lies you have believed about yourself, God, or your circumstances. Then ask God is give you truth from His word to help you stand firm in His love. I keep mine posted on the wall behind my desk. Others have posted them on sticky notes around the house. You could use a voice app and record them to listen to later. The possibilities are endless!
Which voice is the loudest in your life right now - the critic or Christ?
I pray that as you begin to identify the story you are telling yourself, it begins to sound more and more like the loving voice of our Heavenly Father. If you find yourself in need of help silencing the critic, I’d love to link arms with you! Send me an email or book a free coaching call with me to chat about it.
Oh, in case no one has told you today - You are seen. You are known. You are loved.
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