This post brought to you by Activia. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Still Being Molly.
I have always been my own worst critic.
For years this has been a constant battle of mine. I can distinctly remember the first time I was “critical” of myself. I was in the first grade. It was around the holidays because I remember that I was wearing an all white sweatsuit with ironed on Christmas wreaths and Christmas trees that my mom had puffy painted around the edges. #swag. Mrs. Hoy, my first grade teacher, called a few students to the front of the room to help read a Christmas book. I was called to the front of the room with two other classmates, Emily and Audrey.
I remember looking at Emily’s and Audrey’s respective Christmas sweaters and thinking how inferior my white-head-to-toe-makeshift-Christmas-outfit was. Theirs were embroidered and knit. Their Christmas sweaters were store bought, not “hand puffy painted.” And I remember the self-criticism just spiraled out of control in my head from there.
“They can read the story better than me.”
“They are so much smarter than me.”
“They’re better at kickball and foursquare than me.”
It was irrational and it made zero sense. Looking back, they were no different than me. Six-year-old, first grade girls. My self-criticism started with one negative thought and just careened into a deep valley of continuous negative thoughts.
And as I got older, it only got worse. Sure, I can attribute a lot of self-esteem and self-critical issues to being bullied as a child, hurtful friendships, struggling with depression in middle school, or any-number-of-outside influences.
It’s interesting though, now, at the age of 31, while I certainly still struggle with over self-criticism or even things like post-partum depression, I am more confident, self-aware, and proud of who I am than ever.
I am the biggest size I’ve ever been, yet I love my size 14 body more now than I ever did as a size 8 or a size 10. Why? Because I know what my body is capable of. I’ve run a half-marathon, I’ve run 10-milers and 5Ks, and I’ve grown and birthed two beautiful children. I’ve seen what my body can be put through and what it can overcome.
I’ve been through some pretty challenging stuff in my life.
I’ve witnessed my own mother get sick, experience unthinkable hurt by some of those closest to her, see her get sicker, and see her die… that was hard.
I’ve been broke, broker, and brokest.
I’ve made and lost friends. I’ve had my heart broken.
I’ve made mistakes that I wish I could go back and change.
There have been times where I’ve felt nearly crippled with regret, self-doubt, and self-criticism. However, I am not sure if it’s age, motherhood, growing maturity in my Christian faith, or what… but I have felt a lot of the weight of that negativity just leave in the past few years.
It’s always going to be something I’m going to struggle with and fight. Frankly, I think it’s something every woman deals with. We are always our own worst critic. We are always harder on ourselves. We are the last ones to give ourselves grace.
When I think back to things over the years that I wish I would have done or wish I could have done or goals I didn’t accomplish, 90% of the time I think what held me back was me. I got in my own way. And I know I’m not the only one that feels that way… so often what prevents us from moving forward, maturing, and reaching our goals, is ourselves.
Changing this mindset isn’t going to happen overnight – for any of us. But I want to get us talking about this. I want us, ALL of us, to work on this. You are amazing. You can do it. We need to stop being our own worst critic and start seeing in ourselves what others see in us. Over the next few months, I want to start a conversation with each and every one of you around this topic. I want to get us all thinking about taking a big shift in our thinking and get us becoming our own biggest cheerleader. It’s not about being cocky or conceited, it’s about being confident in who we are and how God made each and every one of us.
I’ve also teamed up with the folks at Activia to continue this conversation. Activia asked women to share some of their goals, and then also what’s holding them back from accomplishing them. The answer 80% of the time was themselves. Activia wants women to realize that inside every woman lies a great source of power… A source of inner strength. Of confidence, determination and resolve. When your mind and body are fully aligned, when you are truly in sync with your core, can you harness your greatest potential.
Now what about you? Are you your own worst critic? What do you think your self-criticism stems from? If you aren’t, how have you developed confidence over the years? Share your thoughts in the comments!