When a child is born we naturally start defining them.

Oh she looks like her mother.

She’s serious like her father.

She’s kind of a cry baby.

As we grow there are always adults on hand with opinions.

If she were more like her sister she’d do better in life.

It’s not that she isn’t smart, she’s just too lazy to do the work.

She’ll be fine. She’s pretty.

We think we can escape it as we age but the number of people who think they get to weigh in about you just seems to grow.

She’d be prettier if she weren’t so skinny.

She’s not very friendly when she meets people. She’s kind of snobby.

What a sweet girl. She’ll do anything for anyone. Just ask her.

Entire corporations think they have some sort of right to talk about us, criticize us, and help us “grow”.

If she were less abrasive, she’d get more done around here.

She’s very successful because she understands how to write documents properly.

She’s a rockstar but others sometimes feel left behind and she should try harder to help them keep up.

Honestly…if you listen for it, the critics never stop.

Shouldn’t she share her money more generously?

She doesn’t spend enough time with her family.

She could stand to lose a few pounds.

What-other-people-think-of-meBut here’s what I’ve learned. The group of people who get to voice an opinion about me TO ME is very small. These are my people…the few who can say “Is that the best idea?” or “Why did you decide to do it that way?” or “Whatever you do, don’t cut your hair like this again.” These people earn their position by being in the day to day…in the valleys…on the mountaintops…in the hospital rooms and funeral homes.

Beyond them, you can have an opinion about me…because I can’t stop you…but you should be prepared to get one of the following responses: “Thank you for your opinion. I’ll think about it.” “<silence>” or “Shut the fuck up. Who asked you?”

You might be right. You might be lovely. You might have the best intentions. But you have not earned the right to criticize me. We don’t KNOW each other and therefore how you feel about me is your business. It isn’t mine. And I won’t be taking it on.

My inner critic is learning to be kind, helpful, and generous with her grace towards herself. She knows how to send a warning flare when I’m going sideways. She knows how to sooth me when it’s necessary. And she knows how to correct herself when she’s been unkind. It takes mindfulness, attention, and love. And she is the critic who gets to weigh in…and even she gets told to “shut the fuck up” sometimes.

She sure is trying hard to do the right thing.

She looks nice today and no one else’s looks matter in this equation.

She is not like anyone else in the world. She is uniquely herself.

Woooo…she’s angry and might need a bit of a time out.

She likes people and likes being alone…and that is okay.

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