Life Is Too Hard and Too Short to Be Our Own Worst Critics: A Guest Post

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Friend, Kaitlin here. Today is the best and I bet you didn’t even know it yet. Today, I get to host my good friend Stephanie May Wilson on the blog because she has TWO books releasing today and you’re going to love them. Steph and I began as blog friends and then got to be real-life friends when we both moved to Nashville around the same time. One of my favorite things about this friend is how much she cares for her readers. She’s always talking about the smart things they say, worrying about them, answering their emails, praying for them — and every word of her writing proves it. Steph’s always the first to say “Me too” and remind us we’re all in it together. Enjoy hanging out with her and make sure to check out The Lipstick Gospel Devotional and Prayer Journal! 

Hey sweet friends!

I am so excited that I get to share this with you today! This is an excerpt from my new book, The Lipstick Gospel Devotional (which is now officially here!!). I wanted to just give you a little sample of it — to share one of the days of the devotional with you, so you can get a feel for what it’s all about.

In The Lipstick Gospel Devotional, we talk about God and our relationships with Him and how to find Him in our everyday lives. It’s about rest, and celebration, and learning to love ourselves. It’s about travel, and whimsy, and toes in the sand, about the transformative power of best friends, and a really great chocolate croissant. It’s a reminder that there’s never anything too broken for God to heal or redeem, and a dare to say yes to the plan He has for our lives.

But today, this part of the devotional is all about identity — about learning to feel comfortable and confident in our skin and learning to truly love ourselves instead of being our own worst critics. (Oof — I know that’s tough for me sometimes, and I’d bet I’m not the only one.) So you ready? Here we go!

Here’s an official excerpt from my newest book, The Lipstick Gospel Devotional:

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“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:5

There are seasons in life when I just cannot give myself a break. Do you ever have times like that? Every moment, every glance in the mirror, every action is a reminder of all the ways I fall short — of all the things I could be, could do, and ways I could look but don’t.

I think things like, “You really should go to the gym more. You are really looking gross these days. Of course you failed, you always do. Could you possibly be more annoying?”

I make a simple mistake like forgetting to bring my lunch, and my thoughts are entirely unforgiving. “You always do stuff like this! You are so forgetful and irresponsible! You can just be hungry until we get home. That’ll teach you to remember things next time!”

I crack down on myself hard. I think that if I am just a little bit meaner, just a little bit harsher, if I just raise the bar a little bit, I’ll be motivated enough to leap over it. I’ll meet the sky-high expectations I have for myself and stop being such a disappointment.

For years, more years than I can count, this is how I’ve talked to myself. I’ve been my own worst critic. I’ve criticized my body, and my mind, and my actions, and my skills. I’ve held myself up to my friends, and coworkers, and women I’ve never even met. “Why can’t you be more like her?” I’d ask myself. “You have got to get it together!”

As I say these words out loud to you, I feel like I’m peeking out from a dark corner. Anyone else? Does anyone else do this? Is it just me?

It feels totally vulnerable to admit to these thoughts. Mostly because I feel like I’m way too nice of a person to say things like this, and that’s true! I would never talk to someone else like this! I have all the grace in the world for other people — they’re human, they’re in process, they’re doing the best they can.

But I am the exception, the lucky winner that gets to be the object and source of all of my disdain, and it wasn’t until a girlfriend of mine uttered one simple sentence that I realized how ludicrous this whole thing really is.

We were getting ready to go to dinner, when I peered into the mirror and let one of my thoughts accidentally slip out. “I can’t believe I let myself gain so much weight. Seriously, I’m so big, I look terrible, and the worst part is that it’s my fault! If I was just more disciplined and not so lazy, I wouldn’t be in this mess to begin with.”

Mean, right? I still can’t believe I said it out loud, but I’m so glad I did, because my friend didn’t skip a beat. She didn’t ask for clarification or sweep it cleanly under the rug. She turned to me with glowering eyes and snapped, “Don’t talk about my friend that way.”

I was instantly both so embarrassed I could disappear and so grateful I could cry. I felt caught red-handed, and heroically defended all at once. I was the attacker and the victim. She was coming to my defense, ready to fight the one who was hurting my feelings, knowing full well that the assailant was me.

As we drove to dinner, we talked about the way we all talk to ourselves sometimes. “We think we get a free pass to be cruel because we’re being cruel to ourselves. But we don’t get a free pass to treat anyone that way, and we shouldn’t have to put up with treatment like that from anyone, especially not ourselves.”

She was right. Of course she was right. And her words have stuck with me ever since.

There are enough naysayers in the world, and the more I’ve thought about this, I’ve realized that I don’t want to be another one.

At least we can get away from the naysayers, but we’re stuck with ourselves. If we’re our own worst critic, we’re stuck with our own worst critic right there in our ear. Every time we brush our teeth, every time we take a chance at work, every time we fall asleep, she’s there, telling us we’re not good enough, that we should be different or that we’re a disappointment.

And I’ve just decided I don’t want to play that game anymore.

Life is far too hard, and far too short to be our own worst critics, and it never seems to help us get better anyway. Good things don’t come out of shame; good things come out of kindness, support, and encouragement.

So these days, I try to talk to myself the way I would a friend:

“Good job, sweet girl.”

“You tried, and that’s really saying something.”

“You are beautiful.”

“I’m so proud of you.”

Maybe you are never your own worst critic, and if that’s true, I want to give you a hug and a high five and ask you to teach us all of your ways. But if you are, if the thoughts in your head speak to you this way sometimes, let me grab them by their collar, look them straight in the eye, and say, “Don’t talk about my friend that way!” You don’t deserve to be treated that way, not even by yourself.

Take some time this week to start paying a bit more attention to your thoughts. What kinds of things are you saying to yourself throughout the day? Are you your own worst critic, or do you talk to yourself like a friend? Let’s start paying a bit more attention, and start making intentional choices with our thoughts. Let’s start talking to ourselves the way we would a friend.

You love her already, don’t you? Click here to order the books!

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Hope this added a little happy to your Monday. xo

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