Happy belated Mother’s Day to all Mothers, Step Mothers and Adopted Mothers and Grandmothers out there, too. I am blessed to witness some really incredible mom’s in my world. As I reached out to my Mom, Grandmother, Mother-in-Law, sisters, mother to my step daughter Eden, as well as all the friends I have that are also mothers, I wanted to be sure I fully expressed how much I love them, how in awe of them I am, and how great I think they are doing as a mom because I know, as a mom, you never think you are really doing “good enough.”
Indeed, from some of these moms, I did get an almost expected reply back to my praise and adoration, saying, “I fail a lot, but thank you!”
It’s such an honest response to how I know most mom’s feel.
I certainly feel like I “fail” a lot as a Step Mom and have intense feelings of guilt trying plague my mind and thoughts. It can feel defeating.
But, what does that word even mean? FAIL.
To me, this word doesn’t signify an indication of merely the result of an effort made, but is more of an indication of what the goal was to begin with!
If you have ever felt you have FAILED at something, it is likely because your GOAL in this particular area was to be PERFECT.
There are just certain areas of our life where we strive for PERFECTION.
Perfectionism has fooled our minds into thinking that:
There is such thing as perfection;
That we actually have ability to be perfect;
Anything short of perfection is failure.
But, what we may not realize is having a mindset geared toward PERFECTION is a design from God Himself.
“I have planted a longing for perfection in every human heart. This is a good desire, which I alone can fulfill.” —Sarah Young, Nearer to Jesus
But what goes wrong, is we try to fill our hearts with things that are imperfect (hint: anything that is not God is imperfect, so yes, even your children are an example of this). Those areas then become our IDOLS and we suffer more because of it. We burden ourselves with expectations that can never be met and our mindsets suffer from our inner Self Critic pointing out every “failure” along the way.
But there is a way to beat this! There is a way to feel successful, full and complete!
In this 2-Part Blog Series We’re Going to TACKLE this issue of our Mind:
Part 1: Expose our perfectionist thinking by identifying the Self Critic in your Mind
Part 2: Offer the Alternative Goal that will allow for more God, more Grace, and more “Success” (HINT: the key word is PROGRESS).
OUR SELF CRITIC SABOTEUR!
WHAT IS OUR SELF CRITIC?
Our inner Self Critic is that voice in our head that is always nagging on us and criticizing us. It is the voice in our head that tells us we are not “good enough.”
For simplicity sake, let’s be clear there are 3 facts about our Inner Self Critic:
- Our Self Critic is NOT the voice of God telling you you’re not good enough.
- Our Self Critic is NOT the “real us” even though it’s a voice that sounds like us.
- Our Self Critic IS a scheme of the Devil himself.
The devil can be so good and so smart that he might have you convinced that this voice in your head is “just the way you are” or it is God who is ashamed of you, but that is simply not the truth.
Being aware of these facts is a source of empowerment.
Discerning this Self Critic voice from God’s voice and your TRUE self is the awareness that you need in order to move beyond the limitations it tries to set upon you.
CHARACTERIZING OUR SELF CRITIC?
I was first introduced to the term “Self Critic” from the book, Playing Big, by Tara Mohr.
She says, “All women grapple with this voice of self-doubt in one way or another. For some women, it is most prominent around their professional lives. For others, it comes up around their sense of competence as mothers or partners. For others, it speaks mostly about appearance, body image or aging.”
Preach, Tara, preach!
There she invited me to think of my Self Critic in some character format so I might see her as someone other than me. I loved the idea and encourage you to do the same!
I named my self critic “Emily” after the character played by Emily Blunt in the movie The Devil Wears Prada. She’s the “popular girl” type who thinks that no one is ever good enough, pretty enough, smart enough or skinny enough. Yeah, she sucks. (Not the real Emily Blunt, but the character she plays in my head.)
For some of you, your self critic is going to be an older woman/man of authority that barks down orders. For others, your inner self critic might actually take on the character of your mom or dad or another family member that you have historically never felt “good enough” for.
Whatever the voice is, it’s important to recognize it so you can distinguish it. You can then learn to live with it (because it may never go away) but also ignore it because you recognize this voice for what it is.
Recognize the common phrases your self critic might use. Tara Mohr says our self critics will often speak in extreme phrases so you’re either “awesome” or “pathetic”. It’s usually harsh, mean and rude. Fear based and mischievous. Tells you you’re “not ready yet” to embark on a dream. Irrational, persistent, and seemingly like a “broken record” that just plays and plays.
I know personally, I recognize my self critic when I walk by a mirror and I hear “Ugh.” It may take a while to fully acknowledge, but it’s really important to start to recognize the character and cues that our Self Critics will use.
THE AREAS OF FOCUS FOR OUR SELF CRITIC:
Our self critic (i.e. the devil) is incredibly smart and knows to prey on those very areas of our mind and hearts that are the most susceptible to sabotage. Our very weakest weaknesses.
In fact, once you think about it, your Self Critic seems to expand in areas on your life that you fall most prey to idolatry. Those areas that you have a tendency to put ahead of God.
Allow me to humbly admit the 3 top ares of my own demise and idolatry:
First in my RELATIONSHIPS, “Emily” likes to keep me worrying about what everyone is always thinking of me and keeps putting pressure on me to be a “perfect” wife, “perfect” friend, “perfect” step mom, “perfect” health coach and all that.
Then in my WORK, “Emily” has been especially hard driving on me lately to get more done and do everything all at once to make sure that my new business will succeed. She’s been basically yelling into my head with a megaphone on this one.
Then in my HEALTH, “Emily” has been historically a real b-word. She has yelled at me in my head to workout longer, eat more strict, and especially focused on my body’s flaws and how I just must not be “working hard enough” to see quicker changes!
But, my power is is recognizing this voice and ignoring it.
THE ANTIDOTE TO OUR SELF CRITIC:
The other day I was listening to a Rick Warren podcast called “Daily Hope” (one I highly recommend for anyone looking for “quickie” Spiritual guidance!) where he mentioned that the antidote to FEAR is to FOCUS ON THE PRESENCE OF GOD.
That same focus applies to this Self Critic since the truth about these “perfectionist” thoughts is FEAR as well.
Transitioning our focus to the one thing that IS PERFECT is the perfect way to overcome this Self Critic voice from the devil.
Recognizing our weaknesses and imperfections and offering them up to God is the only way we can be made perfect in Him.
“But he said to me, ‘My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
We DO have the opportunity for perfection, but it is only found where God dwells in us. So if we seek God and connect with God, we find that perfection we long for.
The Devil will continue to try to tear that away and you will struggle every day, in many different ways, to keep that connection to Christ, but God knows that.
God knows that you have a heart that desires perfection, He created that so you would seek HIM more. This means not once, not twice, not 100 times, but every day, several times a day, you must seek God and find the fulfillment you need.
The more you practice this, the more God will relieve your worrisome mind and rest your fears that you are not “good enough” at motherhood, health, or whatever areas your tend to fret.
This awareness, has been incredibly powerful for me. I have been able to use this GodPower source and He has given me a new word and a new GOAL to strive for.
Part II of this series will cover how you too can transition your areas of “Perfectionist” thinking in your pursuits for health and use instead a goal of PROGRESS to keep you motivated and find success and satisfaction!