I recently completed a journal prompt that asked me to pretend to have a conversation with my inner critic (yes, therapists participate in therapy too). This prompt instructed me to approach my inner critic with curiosity instead of shame and fear and ask what those critical thoughts were trying to communicate to me.
At first, I balked at this assignment. The last thing I want to do when I am having a hard day is sit with the thoughts that are critical of me. Like most therapeutic homework I assign myself, I chose to procrastinate for a few hours and then right before bed finally made the decision to do the dang work. It was uncomfortable at first as I listened to messages of inadequacy and unfulfilled dreams, but then I started to listen closer.
These messages, although critical, were also communication of unmet needs. I had been getting so involved in my work and my day-to-day responsibilities that I was neglecting my values, losing sight of why I focus my time on these things, and living out of alignment with my lifetime goals. This was hard to receive, mostly because it meant starting back at the beginning and refocusing my intentions. I thought I had done all that work already.
The truth is that in an unpredictable world, with imperfect people (including myself), the work is never really done.
Growth and change are not linear. We have times when we see ourselves move effortlessly towards our goals and times when every single centimeter of growth has to be dragged upwards using all our energy.
The message I walk away with for myself and anyone else experiencing this perspective is to have grace and gratitude for yourself, for the moments leading you to this place, and for your journey. Our personal growth will never be over and while that inner critic can be annoying and exhausting, make sure to take time and really listen to what those messages are telling you.
Only you have the power to make change and truly live in alignment with your values and lifetime goals.