I was speaking with a friend today who is going through a very difficult time in her life. She has, for years now, been under the intense scrutiny and harsh judgment of another who is very close to her. It has been very painful to watch.
Fast forward a few hours, to me, loading my dishwasher after dinner. While loading, my mind was racing, trying to process the conversation that I had early with my dear friend who is suffering. I couldn’t help but be frustrated and angry with the other person who has been so cruel to my friend. Looking back, I could see how this other person insisted on prodding and pushing my friend in a desperate attempt to fit her into the mold of their own high standards. Painfully, I could also see how this intense scrutiny had caused my friend to doubt. She began doubting herself; her capabilities, her thoughts, her actions, even her worth. Why couldn’t this bully see that the endless pecking and harsh criticism had only isolated, berated and damaged the relationship? Couldn’t they just ‘give up’ and allow my friend to be the warm, thoughtful, creative person that she is?!
And then I had a lightbulb moment. The kind of thought that comes as quickly and as clearly as a 100 watt bulb being switched on and illuminating a previously dark and unexplored room. I have also been under the scrutiny of a harsh critic for so many years. But this critic is covert and crafty, which makes it difficult to confront. This critic hides within ME! I have experienced, day in and day out, how life-sucking and brutal it can be to live with an unforgiving critic, who rudely interjects their opinions and judgments, endlessly throughout my day! Why do I put up with this? I would never suggest to my friend that she ‘suck it up’, so why do I require that of myself? Why don’t I confront this critic and refuse to be treated this way?
That is why I’m GIVING UP!! Giving up on my criticisms; giving up on my judgments. I can make a conscious choice to no longer believe the harsh, loveless words of criticism. I can turn away and move towards hope, healing and life! The first step towards lasting change is acknowledging that there is a problem. And I have a BIG problem, with a BIG mouth. But word by word, I can confront my bully, and choose to take back my power. I am choosing to see how destructive my inner critic is and has been for so long. I am hungry for something else!
This is my hope: that we ALL ‘give up’! And through this giving up (of our own unrelenting standards) we will be able to release OTHERS of those ridiculous standards as well. This can only serve to bring us closer together and bring great understanding of our beautiful yet sometimes gritty humanity.
So today I learned that sometimes, it’s OKAY to ‘give up’!
Becoming Ordinary: Day 29