Making peace with my inner critic has had an amazing impact on my parenting.
Last year, my son, Keith, graduated with a degree in advertising strategy.
Within 2 months of leaving Oregon and moving back home, he had a job offer as a strategist in New York City and a 3 month internship offer in a prestigious firm in San Francisco. Woohoo!!
It was a hard decision for him to make. He was tired of having a long distance relationship with his hometown girlfriend. Also, his dream is to live and work in San Francisco. Although he was flattered by the job in New York, in the end he took the internship. He expected to learn a lot, and he hoped a job would materialize before the end.
At another time in my life when I was less at peace with it, my inner critic voice – whose goal is to protect me and often to protect those most precious to me, like my kids – would have spoken out loud to my son (instead of just speaking to me in my head.)
It would have said: “Keith, you don’t know how lucky you are to be offered a job in New York!” “Right out of college!” “How many kids would jump at the chance!” “A real live job!” “In this economy!” “And what’s more, your girlfriend offered to join you for a year!” “You’d be crazy not to take it!” My inner critic was pretty clear that it knew what Keith should do – after all, he’d be more secure.
If Keith hears my inner critic turned toward him to “protect” him, he may cave and do what I say, run for the hills, or fight me, because he doesn’t feel like his feelings matter. And sadly I lose connection with him.
Because I’ve been practicing making peace with my inner critic, I could stay connected to Keith with curiosity. “So what are the pros and cons of each job,” I asked as we engaged in conversation. He got my caring curiosity. Implicit in curiosity is a sense of trust that he knows what he wants and that I trust him. (… and once he’s heard and felt my trust, I might want to offer my perspective, if he’s interested.)
Living for other people’s approval (like Keith might be for mine) – not having enough trust to live true to themselves – is the number one regret most people have at the end of their lives. Giving my son this sense of trust in himself and confidence to live his own truth is a precious gift for a lifetime.
And there’s so much he’ll learn about himself and life with every choice he makes.
Being released from the spell of the inner critic – that sometimes attacks those dearest to us – starts with me. When I make peace with my inner critic, I not only experience the joy that comes with the freedom of being myself, I also contribute to others, especially my children, that they can trust being themselves.
If you’d like to come practice making peace with your inner critic and open to more intimacy and trust in your life and those whose lives you touch, I invite you to join us on May 18th for my Making Peace with Your Inner Critic workshop.
I’m looking forward to it!