My close friend often hears kind words from me, but just as often he is trying his best to dismiss them, invalidate them. He didn’t hear many kind words in his life, admittedly. As a friend, I can’t disclose much of his inner world, but my point would be it is full of voices of criticism he kept hearing through the years. They became a part of his interior, and seemingly he can’t function without them as if he would make the same mistakes over and over if he stopped listening to them. That might be one explanation why he, we are holding so tightly onto them.
I don’t think there are many people out there without their inner critics. They can be too harsh when one is feeling anxiety, and they can prolong and deepen some feelings.
I used to think I am doing so much better than my friend. After all, at least I could accept a compliment from someone close. But these voices are layers and layers of dirt or rust that are gathering as the years go by. We really need to do some work and investigate our beliefs about ourselves. Which ones are our own and which ones are the ones we owned, but kept hearing from someone else? Naturally, we need feedback, but what if it is uninformed or even malicious?
I’ll give a simple example. As a kid I was very good at school, I dare to say I excelled. So by stereotypical logic, I couldn’t be considered pretty nor good at sports. I started believing that and I lost interest in sports.
When I left my small town for university, I finally got the chance for swimming that I enjoyed in the summers only and especially Wing Chun. I was good at both, and in Wing Chun, I excelled! Beyond my wildest dreams. Even when diagnosed years later, I would go to the small gym to work out with the man who brought the martial art to this part of the world for some three, four hours.
Good thing that I didn’t listen to this inner voice! I expected I would be clumsy, but I tried anyway. And guess what! And even if I was clumsy but enjoying myself?
Another point that I want to make is that I wasn’t even aware I soaked in that prejudice based on my school success. And that wasn’t the only one, but one of the many. I want to repeat: I am not trying to say we shouldn’t listen to feedback, I wish to say that we shouldn’t let other peoples unconfirmed and uncritical opinions undermine us. When something is repeated so many times, opinion based on cherry-picking methodology, it can grow solid and soon we can give up on things we always wanted to do. I wanted to be a Wing Chun practitioner since I was a child, and if I wasn’t so persistent, I would have missed the joy of it when given a chance.
Don’t let the choirs of the voices from outside bring you down. Inspect why you think you are not good at something or no good in general. Try talking to close people. And most of all, dare and risk. Try some inner hygiene samely as you would clean your room. Above all, try.