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…
41 thoughts on “The Friend You’ll Have to Ditch to Chase Your Dreams”
Allison, I so agree with what you wrote. I immediately recognized “me” in your story. You speak truth. I speak loud, clear, constantly, and critically to myself. Now, to only be able to stop listening to my “friend.” Thank you for revealing and validating these feelings.
You are a skilled writer to GRADUALLY shift to identifying this “friend”. Applause for your blogging skill.
Seems we have a mutual friend. I’ve been trying to shake her for some time as well. She sure knows how to hang on though. I’ve been wondering the same thing lately, what would life be like without her pulling me down ?
Made me think of this song from Mercy Me, think I’m going to make it my theme song.
GREAT post ! Keep em coming, you’re resonating 🙂
Yes, and amen.
Thanks for encouraging us all to ignore that “inner critic”. Let me be an outside “encourager”, saying the very same thing back to you. Your voice is important. Don’t stop writing. In the words of the old, old Simon & Garfunkel song don’t let your words become like the “songs that voices never share”.
We all make the decision moment by moment on whether to listen to our inner critic or to recognize the presence of God in our everyday lives and bring glory to Him. It’s those real everyday moments that I write about at http://www.everydayservant.com
Thanks for all your posts!
This is just what I needed today! I may be stepping into something where I feel out of my element and I’m hearing my inner critic telling me I can’t do it and it will never work. Thank you for these inspiring, encouraging words today! I’m going to keep referring to them again and again . . .
oh, yes. my inner critic is a real jerk. one question i’ve found that helps defuse him is: “if you spoke to others the way you speak to yourself, would you listen to yourself?” honestly, i can’t remember if that’s the correct phrasing, but it gets the gist across. all the inner doubt and negative self-talk really does have an impact on our psyche, whether we believe it or see it or not.
good words, as always, ally.
Great post. Such amazing insight here Ally. This is a perspective which seems so obvious yet most of us don’t see. My ‘friend’ is great at telling me I’m going to fail no matter how hard I try, that I’m not good enough, that I’m a loser and a failure. And you know what? It’s lying. And I don’t want to be friends with this inner voice anymore.
I’ve learned so much from this post, definitely going to try and take this perspective into my own life. Brilliant.
Oh, honey. I know this friend WAY too well and she’s a tough one to ditch. But you know now, early in the game, that she has to give way for the deepest, best, most beautiful you to flourish. And you do.
You’re right, I have that friend too. I’m holding her stories up to the Light to remind myself they aren’t true. Glad I learned that concept at the Storyline conference in Nashville. And I’m glad I met you and learned of your sweet blog. Thanks for being, Ally.
wonderful post allison… yes, my worst critic is myself… i wonder why that is??…
i am doing serious work however to love that critic and pay attention to what he says instead of just taking it.. ha
Such an important reminder. It’s hard work (those voices have stories) but it is good work. Thanks Allison!
love this. Reminds me very much of a quote I saw recently that said, “be kind to yourself: it’s hard to be nice when someone is being mean to you all the time.”
yikes. yep! big wake up call for me.
Thank you for the reminder, Allison! I have that friend and it is obvious in my internal and external life the effect she has had on me.
Time for change!
This is so true, I’ve been having major battles in my life and most of them come from my not so very best friend inside my head. It’s amazing how our inner critic can hold into the tiniest words from years ago and can make them into inner hurricanes the can be so destroying…I’ve had to learn to let go of those things and speak out truths when overwhelmed with the whispers that bring so much doubt and confusion.
Posts like yours help to remind me that I’m not the only one with such an unwelcome ‘friend’
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