Somewhere between fifth grade and sophomore year, I’d developed the part of my brain that convinces me I suck and everyone will think I’m a failure.
Detaching the wedding from the marriage was a key turning point for me.
We go around asking each other about our careers all the time. It’s the ultimate small talk question: “What do you do?” Our culture emphasizes these roles as part of our capitalist machine: career implies a place in society, a person whose role in production and output fits into a tidy little noun. I’d much rather know what you’re passionate about, what you look forward to doing, what you’d do for free.
This really is a trust exercise: my present self trusting that my past self has my best intentions at heart. And that my future self will thank my present self for keeping a promise. But if the person I’m supposed to trust is telling me that I’m a failure for not living up to expectations, for not getting my lazy ass off the couch, then of course it will be impossible to build that trust.
I stitch all the wonderful photos and stories and captions together to create a mutant Frankenstein’s monster of a person who does all the things and against whom I compare myself.
I don’t want to lose my ability to find patterns. I do want to stop my brain from concluding that if I can’t find a pattern, I must be a failure or wrong.
I want to understand why my brain is wired in such a way that feeling appreciation, gratitude, pride, celebration is so fleeting. But, I don’t want to turn that understanding into another way I can criticize myself.
We are surrounded with messages about making our lives easier, being more productive and organized and efficient. There is a fix for everything, so why shouldn’t there be a fix for my own brain seeming to stand in my way?
The paradox of this time is that we’re so well-trained that “doing nothing = bad,” that now doing nothing seems like a punishment. But the only way for us to come out of this hard time is to let it be hard, and then to take steps so that next time, it’s not as hard.
If I ask this inner critic, “What are you trying to say,” and really listen, I hear its fear, its desire to protect me from failure and rejection, and I can say to the voice, “Thank you for trying to protect me, but I’ve got this.” What is the “inner critic” part of the brain, if not a string of judgmental words?