During the past few weeks it has occurred to me: I have a friend I have to ditch if I’m ever going to truly enjoy my life and become who I was made to be.
It’s hard, because I’m not a big fan of ditching friends. I’m a loyal person by nature, and try to do everything I can to build bridges and keep relationships, even when they’re hard. If anything, I lean too far in the direction of sacrificing my personal boundaries in order to maintain connections.
But I can’t do that with this friend.
This friend is preventing me from living in my strengths, talking me out of doing things I want to do, blowing my weaknesses out of proportion, pushing shame on me for past mistakes, using scare tactics to prevent me from future mistakes, and just generally ruining my life. She’s a real jerk. And you know what?
You have this friend, too.
And you need to ditch him or her.
This friend has been in my life for longer than any other friend I’ve had. She goes with me just about everywhere I go. She’s clingy, needy and won’t leave me alone. Sometimes I tell her to go away, but she just keeps showing up. She’s there in the morning right when I wake up, and there in the evening when I’m falling asleep.
And she has an opinion about everything.
I’m not joking. Everything.
Right now, while I’m writing this blog post, she’s whispering in my ear: “This is stupid. Nobody is going to read it. You might as well just trash it and start over.”
In fact, pretty much anytime I try to do anything constructive or thoughtful or important, she comes up with a reason why it won’t work, or why no one will care. She tries to get me to focus on poor motives, or past failures or tries to convince me I should be pointing my efforts elsewhere.
She’s impossible to please.
You’ve probably guessed by now who I’m talking about: It’s me.
It was just this week, as I was driving down the highway (I missed my exit, and my inner-critic began to talk to me in that tone of hers) that I realized: If I had a friend who treated me the way I treat myself, I would ditch her. Seriously. She would be out the door so fast. She’s awful.
So why do I stay friends with that person inside my head? Why haven’t I un-friended my inner-critic?
I have the ability to turn it off, don’t I?
Start paying attention to this friend in your life.
I’m certain you have one. He or she probably hangs around all the time, but gets particularly vocal when you’re tired or out-of-your-element. Pay attention when a well-meaning real-life friend gives you constructive criticism because your inner-critic will likely twist it and distort it until it feels like an insult.
When you step out to do something new or exciting, tune in: your inner critic is up to bat, ready to talk you out of it.
“This will never work,” he or she will tell you.
“This always happens to you.”
“See, you’re here again. Figures. What else did you expect?
“I told you so.”
This friendship has to end. Now.
I wonder how much happier and more peaceful our lives would be if we told this awful friend to take a hike. I wonder what would happen if we took the Golden Rule and applied it to ourselves (treated ourselves as we would want to be treated, rather than how we believe we deserve to be treated).
I wonder if there might be more growth, more productivity, more of us come to life…