The Inner Critic, and The Inner Best Friend

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I’ve been listening to many, many podcasts as of late, and one of them recently hit very close to home. Rachel Brathen (From the Heart: Conversations with Yoga Girl) finished a Yoga Teacher Training last month by interviewing all 52 of her trainees about what their Inner Critics and Inner Best Friends tell them. The interview is so long she actually split it into two episodes, and I cannot decide which half I adored more. It got me thinking, “What do my Inner Critic and Inner Best Friend tell me?”

 

My Inner Critic says – 

I am not prepared. I will never be prepared to make any kind of leap into the unknown, and if I leap, I will fail. It says that I will never work in freelancing, that I will never break into publishing.

I am not creative enough. I will never finish writing any of my books because I am not a good enough writer, that I don’t have a big enough imagination.

I will die alone. I will never find the love of my life or build the family I desire.

Others are more qualified. I will never get the job/internship of my dreams because I am not worthy of it. Others will always be chosen over me.

I am too intimidating, or not beautiful enough. I will never end up with that guy I’m crushing on because he will always choose someone else.

 

My Inner Best Friend says – 

I am more prepared than I know. I can see the truth of this every day when I talk to customers at work, or classmates in grad school and drop knowledge bombs that amaze and astound (My Inner Best Friend is pretty full of herself, for good reason. She has a lot to stand up to.)

I am so creative it’s painful sometimes. It’s no wonder I am always daydreaming and cannot stay focused on one story. I keep coming up with more! I dream vividly. After a lot of practice, I can even control what I do in my dreams, and sometimes if I’m woken up, I can return to the dream I left off in. I am creatively powerful, and I will succeed through pure force of will if nothing else.

I am never alone. I have my huge family (just going back two generations I already have over 40 close family members: Siblings, Parents, Cousins, Aunts, Uncles, Second Cousins, Grandparents, Great Aunts, Great Uncles.), and I have quite a few close friends whom I can call up at the drop of a hat whenever I need them, not to mention my internet friends, who I speak to nearly as much as everyone else and love just a dearly. I just need to have a bit more patience and faith, and God will lead me to my forever partner, my future husband.

I am just as qualified as others. And I have a lot of skills that I don’t know how to put on a resume, which probably means I’m actually overqualified for everything I’m applying to. The right position will present itself, and I’ll know it when I see it because it will be the one I don’t give up on so easily.

While I never doubt that I am beautiful, everyone has their own personal views on beauty. It’s completely possible that the guy I’m crushing on at any given moment doesn’t find me beautiful because his standard of beauty is completely different from mine. I always hear my Inner Best Friend start screaming at me when I think I am too intimidating, because **** that. If a guy can’t handle me on daily basis – my beautiful, smart, strong self – than he doesn’t deserve my best or worst. He’s not the guy for me, and I just dodged a bullet. I need a strong man who is not afraid of being matched in wits, and is also looking for an equal to share a life with.

 

 

Other Things My Inner Critic and Inner Best Friend have fought about:

In Elementary School, my Inner Critic told me I would never make real friends. This was in part because I moved when I was eight, and had a lot of trouble meeting new people with similar interests. My Inner Best Friend reminded me that I had built in best friends in my siblings and cousins, and we are all the closer for it, even now that I have close friendships with people who are not related to me by blood.

In Middle School, my Inner Critic told me I was terrible at sports. And it almost won. But Freshman year of high school I had one of the track coaches as my gym teacher, and he helped me find my athletically inclined side.

In High School, my Inner Critic continued to tell me I wasn’t good enough to succeed at athletics, as well as in theatre and in classes. My Inner Best Friend gave me the fortitude to keep running, making my success about beating my own records, not the records of others. I found the courage to go out for the play every year and even had a few line-solos senior year. I studied hard and took each setback as a challenge. I was nearly a straight-A student, even though I wasn’t in all AP classes like most of my friends.

During Undergraduate Studies, my Inner Critic told me I was stupid. That I had taken on too much. That the friends I made in high school weren’t going to be there for me always. That I was in way over my head, and that there was no way out. My Inner Best Friend fought back tooth and nail and finally convinced me to transfer schools and start over. My Inner Critic told me I would be letting everyone down. My Inner Best Friend said this had nothing to do with anyone but myself.

Just after graduation, my Inner Critic told me that I would never get a job I even remotely enjoyed, that I would be unemployed forever, that all of my friendships were terrible and falling apart, that I would disappear from existence, and that I would never amount to much. My Inner Best Friend immediately went into overdrive, found me a job, and made the most of it.

A year after graduation, my Inner Critic told me that I could never move out of New Jersey (where I loved living but didn’t have many job opportunities), and would work soul-sucking jobs while never reaching my dreams. My Inner Best Friend said, “Let’s move to Boston?”

18 months ago, my Inner Critic told me I would never get into graduate school or get the chance to pursue my dream career. My Inner Best Friend said “Hold My Beer.” and did it anyway.

Right now, my Inner Critic is still trying to hold me back, tell me I am afraid, and that I will never get any cool jobs I apply to, so why bother applying? My Inner Best Friend is already in full armor on her white horse, ready to beat my Inner Critic into submission.

Because what my Inner Critic will never be able to understand is that courage is impossible without first being afraid. I am not fearless, running blindly into things without a thought to their outcome. I live with fear every day. And every day I have to choose to put on my armor one piece at a time, saddle up my horse, and ride into battle. The prize? Everything I’ve ever wanted.

Maybe I’ve watched too many John Wayne movies, or maybe it was the steady diet of fantasy novels I read as a child, but I believe that with courage, goodness will always prevail.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (KJV)
“Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.” ~John Wayne

 

What do your Inner Critic and Inner Best Friend tell you?

 

Until next time,

~Amanda

Grace, Not Perfection: Embracing Simplicity, Celebrating Joy – Emily Ley

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Source: Goodreads

Grace, Not Perfection, is Emily Ley’s debut book. Part inspirational, part self-help, all kindness, Ley’s words flow easily off the page and stick in your mind. A mother of three children under the age of five and a small business owner, Emily shares how she learned to embrace the circus and enjoy each season her life brings her.

This cover caught my eye while I was Christmas shopping in November, and I just had to pick it up from my local Target. I forced myself to savor it, to only read one chapter each day, and to really think out each lesson that was shared. Every word was kind and beautiful, her personal anecdotes and stories completely relatable even for a young, unmarried, full-time nanny like me. Parts of it did, of course, read like they were specifically for moms, but others seemed written for young women, such as myself, or those farther along in their lives. Emily has somehow created something that is all encompassing, from young to old, single to married, poor to rich, I believe her words will resonate strongly regardless of which characteristics define her readers.

I found myself looking forward, each day, to the time when I got to sit down and open this book. The end of chapter eight really hit home when she suggested unfollowing on social media anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable, inadequate, or negative in any way. I went through a social media detox at the beginning of last year and made my Facebook almost completely private, and I now consistently have less than 150 friends. Most of them are family because my family is huge, and the rest are close friends and former colleagues that I enjoy keeping up with. The key word being ‘enjoy’. My Twitter and Instagram follow under 1000 people because I purge them regularly. If I don’t remember why I followed someone or I stop enjoying their content, I unfollow. And I refuse to feel bad about it. Having someone else validate that point added sprinkles to my cupcake of happiness.

This one of those books that I could read over and over again, which almost never happens. In fact, I spent so much time talking about this book from the minute I opened it that my mom and my sister decided to buy me one of Emily Ley’s Simplified Planners for Christmas. I wish I could force every woman I know to read this book, but I guess I’ll have to settle for continuously talking about it and gifting it every chance I get.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars

The Little Paris Bookshop – Nina George (T: German-English by Simon Pare)

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via Goodreads

Jean Perdu lives alone and prefers his own company. Yet he still knows everyone’s business in his apartment building, and he owns a bookshop, at which he prescribes books to cure ailments many people are not even aware of. Yes, Monsieur Perdu is a Literary Apothecary. And his shop is no normal bookstore, but a floating book barge on the Seine, moored in the middle of Paris. Convinced after many years to read a letter left him by the one that got away, Perdu embarks on a journey to find closure, and along the way finds himself.

I picked George’s up because it had ‘bookshop’ in the title. Sorry, not sorry. This book is like what happens when your friend who gives great dating advice but never dates finally hits the dating scene. You know they are going to have to learn to swim in the murky waters of the dating pool, but you still just want to do a happy dance. Monsieur Perdu is like this. Throughout the novel he’s always giving people advice and fixing the lives around him, usually by making them read a book or two or ten,  but when it comes to his own life he’s completely adrift. His journey, therefore, is almost part speaking tour, part Eat, Pray, Love. It’s fantastic, and I personally adored every second of it. Not to mention the book is basically a tour of France! Literally, my only gripes with this entire piece are that it starts a little slowly and that I still want more description of the countryside because it’s just so breathtaking! *sigh* Also, did I mention this book was originally released in German? The translation is flawless.

WARNING: This book will make you wish you were a Literary Apothecary. Which is a real job! Kind of. In the U.S. at least, they’re called Book Therapists. According to a super quick Google search I did just now they’re also called Bibliotherapists, and apparently, they’ve been around since Ancient Egypt/Greece. Who knew!

EXTRAS! Besides some delicious sounding recipes, the book also includes a mini book pharmacy, with “Perdu”‘s reading recommendations for your ailments. It’s. Perfect.

HHC Rating:  4.5 Stars

The Boston Girl – Anita Diamant

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Source: Goodreads

Anita Diamant’s The Boston Girl follows first-generation American Addie Baum through the ups and down of living in early 20th century Boston, Massachusetts. Not your typical historical-fiction-memoir, the story reads as though Addie is being interviewed by her granddaughter, Ava, and shows us her life from 1900-1985.

Having never heard of Anita Diamant except when people spoke in passing about The Red Tent, I don’t 100% remember why I picked up this book in the first place. I think I came across a summary and it sounded interesting, and then I had family that moved to Boston, and I bought it. Then, The Red Tent was turned into a TV miniseries (Trailer and Miniseries rated PG13) in 2014 on Lifetime that my mother and I marathoned and bawled our eyes out through. It was life-changing. And then I was moving to Boston this year and I picked up this book to add to my reading list and realized it was by the same author all over again. Still, I kept putting it off, for no real reason. I’m glad I read it in Boston. It gave me a new perspective on my new city, and I’m beyond thankful for that.

This book is nothing like any historical, fictional, memoir type book that I have ever come across. The almost but not quite interview style is done extremely well, and you hardly realize that the story is being told in first-person. If Addie was a real person she would immediately be on my list of biggest heroes. There is so much gumption in this girl. She’s just so real, and the twists and turns that her life takes are too numerous to count.

True, the number of words which I’m guessing were either Yiddish or Hebrew and I, therefore, didn’t know (not having studied those languages myself) were high, it’s true. However, each one only added to the hominess feel of the book, as though the reader is one of Addie’s close friends, maybe from the Saturday Club, or maybe a close Jewish friend (like the granddaughter who’s supposedly interviewing her) who would understand all the terms. The humor with which she speaks is contagious, and even though I read the book in the span of a day, I found myself walking around smiling even when I wasn’t reading it.

“You know, Ava, it’s good to be smart, but kindness is more important. Oh dear, another old-lady chestnut to stitch on a sampler. Or maybe one of those little throw pillows.”
~Addie Baum

There are too many ‘chestnuts’ to share them all, but The Boston Girl is pure magic if I’ve ever seen it. Even the sad and tragic things that happen to and around Addie provide important information that allows you to dig deeper into Addie’s story. This is one of those books that really was too good to put down, completely sucking me in. It’s so good that it might have even earned a spot on my all-time favorites list, something that rarely, if ever, happens.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars

Leave Your Mark: Land Your Dream Job. Kill It in Your Career. Rock Social Media. – Aliza Licht

Source: Goodreads

Leave Your Mark by Aliza Licht is part memoir, part advice book, and part much-needed kick in the rear end. Aliza, formerly known as DKNYPRGIRL across social media, was the Senior Vice President of Global Communications for Donna Karan International. After rising to success on Twitter and inspiring other brands to place Public Relations on the front lines, Aliza answered the many inquiries for advice from young Fashion and PR professionals and students with this book, which she terms a sort of written mentorship.

Throughout its pages are sprinkled stories from her life, ranging from early career woes to the challenges of anonymous stardom. Her advice is great, and the flow of the book is mostly fantastic, but the formatting could use some work. By the end I was growing increasingly annoyed by the interruption of a perfectly good paragraph by an “insider tip” that was usually pretty common sense, yet made to feel so secret that it might as well be the identity of Gossip Girl.

Occasionally, Licht would go on a rant (something that, IMO, should be saved for opinion columns and reviews, not used in memoirs or advice books, although I can understand the urge.) and it would feel like she was yelling at the reader for something they hadn’t done, but that there was a small chance they might do in the future. I found myself feeling slightly upset and bewildered after these parts and having to put the book down in order to remind myself that I hadn’t done whatever it was before I was able to pick the book back up and try to get back into it.

Although I know Licht was just trying to be thorough and professional and when she announced in the beginning that she would be altering names and even genders of people she would refer to so that their identities would say secret and the reader, whether they be a man or a woman, would feel equally represented, the whole concept rang through my head like a song on replay whenever I was reading the book and ended up making it feel somewhat contrived and slightly less than genuine.

However, the overall tone of the book was pretty good, and it carried a lot of solid advice for only 288 pages. I think it was a bit of a cautious beginning for Licht in the literary world, but I get the feeling that she will probably publish more, and that she will improve with each publication. I definitely enjoy her social media presence, sass and all, and look forward to reading anything else she decides to print. I would recommend the book in its entirety to anyone looking for advice on a career in social media, fashion, or PR specifically, and the resume section to every person I have ever met or will meet in the future.

HHC Rating: 3.5 Stars