One of the most challenging aspects of noise in my life—both past and present—is a self-critical voice. As a child I was happy, easy going, bright, and I enjoyed life. Still, I was raised in a strict environment with an authoritative father and a “scheduled” mom. I always knew what to expect and often wondered if I behaved to behave or behaved because I was afraid of my dad’s discipline. I grew up knowing that the only right “way” is the “Kennedy way” (my maiden name). I held myself to this standard into my early 20’s and suffered the consequences of not being able to live up to the high rigorous expectations. My inner critic (aka the false voice) let me know I was fat, I was short, I was not as smart as someone else, and even the poems I wrote needed correction by my editor father. I married the wrong guy; I abandoned my education . . . the list went on and on. I was a “disappointment.” At sixty-five, my siblings still think I am the rebellious, wayward, and troublesome youth.
These days, the inner critic gains a foothold when I allow myself to be distracted by life, by crisis, by sadness, by suffering, by responsibilities, by anything that takes the front seat. Before I know it, my “old self” is calling the shots. I become a victim to my thoughts. I allow other people’s opinions define me. I replay and ruminate thoughts. I judge myself based on these thoughts. I slip into an annoyed, frustrated, discouraged, exhausted, stressed-out woman (mother, wife, friend). The doubter voice, the inner critic, whispers to me to quit everything . . . after all, you are struggling to take care of yourself, whatever it takes, just quit, give it up. The noisy false voice whispers more thoughts, until all that is left is me, myself, and I.
I am unhappy.
I have a new thought . . . What if I boot the self-critic out?
I endeavor to silence the false voice. I have my prayer time every day. I remain still. I am present, and I also have a presence that is within—in my heart, in my spirit—my inner voice in my secret room. I have kept a regular appointment with the Lord at 5 am. This is alone time, quiet time, gentle, peaceful, holy time. I listen to the Lord’s voice, and the Spirit.
I must make the decision every day to fight back against the false inner critic. I purposefully select my fight team of thoughts: I am strong; I am a woman of solution; life does not happen to me, rather, for me; I am fierce about protecting my mind from negative influence; I command my thoughts and am diligent about replacing them and recalibrating.
So, excuse me, I think I need to go and make someone smile. I am going to play a family game and spend a bit of time laughing.