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#WordsMatter: Damn those inner critics to seven circles of hell

“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.” Henry Ford )

Being judged and put into compartments of opinions by “others”, is one of our greatest fears. It can either make us or break us. We all grow up enveloped in a cocoon of parental influence first and then siblings, friends, neighbors, teachers, etc add to this nimbus. But this mentoring is not all good and often involves prejudice which leads to a build up of inferiority complex within us.

If I could give/receive one gift, it would be to be free from the voices in our heads that we grow up with, often growing into them. These tend to be our biggest critics and often the mirror in which we judge ourselves against.

I grew up hearing that I am a girl and therefore I must be seen not heard. Voicing my opinion or asking questions was shunned, often with a shake of a head at my impunity. My blackened knees were frowned upon with a severe admonishment of who would marry me. In fact this lament accompanied me right until the time I left home to begin a working life.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing its stupid.” – Albert Einstein

I was called dark, fat and then there were the buck teeth which needed to be rectified with ortho-dentistry. I would read non-stop and was often told that you will ruin your eyes and will need to wear glasses. More woes added in the quota of marital department!

Its no wonder that I grew up into this awkward, gauche and an introverted kid who refused to believe she could ever do anything. To put it mildly, I was ruined by all those voices in my head (and to date some bits of them still murmur from time to time.)

Its not easy to stand up to one’s parents- the first and foremost critics in a child’s life. We all grow up wanting to be like them, to impress them and to have them fawn on us. While some parents would say children don’t come with a manual, so we did the best we could. I would say to them all that blaming, criticizing and non-stop admonishment with threats of punishment are no ways to bring up a child.

“Don’t Let The Past Blackmail Your Present To Ruin A Beautiful Future” – SRK in Dear Zindagi

You only end up undermining the individual that child could ever have been. Its a crime and there is no easy solution out of it. Perhaps years of therapy or yoga or meditation or any such thing might work. But that inner child will always be damaged and stay so. Not only that but we tend to become our worst critics and be so hard on ourselves that finding joy in what we achieve becomes impossible.

Its taken a lifetime of rebellion, thickening my skin and standing firm on my stance in front of all of my detractors. I have grown to say I don’t care and mean it too. I have learnt to say No and with a clarity that brooks no argument. Yes in the process I have acquired some more adjectives but I just don’t care anymore about any of that.

I wish for all of us to be free from these overtly critical fears that we harbor within us, right from childhood and lean into our potential fully. Nobody has the right to put anyone down for whatever reasons as we are all uniquely different. Its for this reason, one must build a close inner circle of people who relish in giving encouragement and positive feedback.

Do you have a tale to tell of your inner critics? Wont you share it with me please and also tell me your thoughts on my post.

⇐ You could catch another opinion piece of mine from the Festival of Words here ⇒

critics-Writing-words matter- typewriter- diary-journal-blog hop-story

I am participating in the #WordsMatter Blog Hop and this post is in response to the prompt “If I could give/receive a gift…………….”. This bloghop has about 25 participants. I received this tag from  Keerthi Vydula at Thoughts thru lens. It’s my pleasure to pass on this tag to Apeksha Rao at Apeksha Rao

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29 thoughts on “#WordsMatter: Damn those inner critics to seven circles of hell

  1. Oh my God! Me too! I want to stop those voices in my head too! There is so much to unlearn in this life. I am glad you stood up to everyone and put your points across. I have gone through very similar situations while growing up. Marriage was always the ultimate goal back then , wasn’t it? Argh…

    1. Ha ha to the aargh! Jyothi and yes the parental norm was marriage for the girls at the earliest. Sorry to hear you have had similar experiences and hopefully you have been able to silence some of them if not all!!

  2. I can very well relate to your post Shalz and I think it’s the same for many other Indian women. Atleast our generation is not Raising daughters with focus only on marriage , that’s a happy change.

    1. Yes thats indeed a very happy change and I am so thrilled to see women of my generation raising such strong and liberal children. We can hope for much in the future generations to come 🙂

  3. I’m sorry you’ve had to go through that, Shalini. Inner voices are always the worst critics, actually. I’m glad that you’ve been able to overcome them and live life on your own terms. That takes an immense amount of courage! 🙂

    1. Thanks Shy- I think it was my journey and I had to go through it. Glad that most of its behind me and now I can live as I wish to. 🙂

  4. That’s a F.A.N.T.A.S.T.I.C. wish. If I had to wish something for myself that’s what I’d wish too. Most parents bring us up in a way to ‘fit in’. And that’s where the problem begins. Instead if we could be fearless and teach our children to be the same, it would be wonderful. I cannot even say I have succeeded in doing that, but I’m trying my very best. Trying to let them be themselves. It’s hard, believe me!
    I’m so proud of you Shalini that you’ve been able to unlearn much of what would have been thrust upon you and have emerged to be the wonderful open person you’ve now become.

    1. Thanks so so much Tulika – I cant believe I was hesitant to post this once I had written it. I am amazed at the reaction and camaraderie this post has given me. I am sure you are a brill mom – you cannot be anything else. I can make out from all your posts the love you shower on your kids and the care you take with their upbringing. You are definitely not a mom bringing up her kids to “Fit IN” – you are telling them to Fly, Fly and reach high 🙂

      Thank you for being proud of me and saying so- feels like retribution now 😉

  5. I am sorry you had to go through that Shalz. Negative self talk is the most damaging thing we all (or most of us anyway) do to ourselves – and it’s especially dangerous because it’s an unconscious act for so many of us. It’s the reason why I LOVE your wish! And it’s the one thing I wish for my son. For him to learn to be unapologetically himself.

    1. Thanks so much Shaan – I love the fact that you are seeing this from the viewpoint of being a parent now. More power to your momness and your son to be himself all the way 🙂

  6. Been through the exact same stuff and I know exactly what you mean, Shalz.
    Hugs for all that you had to experience and a salute for all that you achieved! You are an inspiration <3

    1. Awww Shilpa that’s heart breaking yaar-I hope you didn’t carry them through and have your peace of mind. Having met you, I can’t imagine you having gone through this as you are such a sunny natured person

  7. I am so sorry that you had to go through what you did in your childhood. Being a parent now, I can never understand how parents can be so cruel all in the guise of thinking your best or doing their best. I know we are fallible, but I hope parents would pay more attention to how we treat our kids. Our kids are not our possessions, we just had the immense fortune of bringing them into the world. I am so proud of you for brushing away the demons of your past and standing up for yourself. You go, girl! <3

    1. Thank you for seeing this from the perspective of being a parent Rachna and I can guarantee that your kids are superbly lucky in having you as a mom. You are a no-nonsense person but have a lot of love and patience to give to your children and friends. Much love and hugs my virtual friend 🙂

  8. I hear you Shalz. I could relate to almost everything you’ve said. Aren’t you shining like the bright sun now? Life does this to us. Maybe that’s life’s way of telling us to stand up for ourselves. You’re amazing Shalz. I wish I bring more courage to myself in the coming year and make things better for me. Hugs Shalz. You are an amazing person.♥️

    1. How sweet of you to say so Jayanthy – I am so glad to have met you in the blogging world. You are such a nice person 🙂

      Hugs and love right back at you gurl!!! Stay shining and blessed always

  9. Having gone through similar situations, I could relate to every word written by you.
    Inner critics get noisier with time and silencing them is a life long battle for some of us.
    Remarkable to see you silencing those voices and thriving .
    More power to you !!!

    1. It’s such a terrible way of parenting and I am at a loss for words to say anything more about it when I am reading about how many people here are expressing similar sentiments

      It’s a long uphill battle to silence them and I wish you and everyone else more power to achieve that

  10. I can feel your pain. Can only imagine how horrifying it must have been for you to go through so much so early in your life! I believe what doesn’t break us makes us stronger! I love that strong determined voice of yours that intends to silence all the negative self-talks to be the person you’ve always intended to be. Be strong. Be brave and always be hopeful!

    1. Thanks so much Esha-yes it takes the painful to make or break us. I think I have barely coped and am glad to have done just that much. I am happy to note the change in today’s parenting. Parents listen to their children and are not running them down to “fit in”. There is so much bonding and ease between child and parent these days-how I wish it was so in my time too 🙂

      1. It has changed, Shalz but strangely there are still traces of the old equations between the generations even today. On the whole though, it is much better that children don’t have the pressure from their parents to “conform” any more because one size doesn’t fit all, right! So, now, it’s not the parents but the peer group that is putting kids under pressure. As a mom of a 15 yo, I am exhausted trying to work out a way to counter this on an everyday basis. It is HARD!

        1. Oh wow thats even tougher Esha- had no idea. I guess a parent’s job has become much harder now with this issue. Than god for the closeness, for at least you get to communicate with your child and hear his troubles. All the best to you on this front!!!

  11. Having critical parents can damage your self-confidence as an adult. I am so glad that you overcame and silenced your inner critic despite the challenges. I am sure it wouldnt have been easy, considering the inner critical voice can be pretty loud when you get to hear negative messages. More power to you and stay strong and happy always. ♥

    1. Yup its not been easy as my parents are in denial over this issue. I have tried explaining to them what this did to me or how I feel even today. But they brush it aside. So I have had no choice but to get over it. Thankfully I have a fantastic set of besties who understand me totally and helped me through this a lot 🙂

  12. The worst part is when these things are told to you with ‘love’ – such a bandied about word, isn’t it? I had a few voices in my head too and other experiences that made me feel less than ‘enough’. I completely understand how hard it is to work through this and come out with our self-esteem intact. I love what Jayanthy said in her comment and I’m underling it! I often tell you that you are an inspiration – you better believe that, girl! Hugs.

    1. Ohhh this is so so sweet- thank you so much Corinne! I m amazed at the positive reaction to this post; so many of you have expressed solidarity in this and I am so so humbled!! When I took to writing, I never knew I would make such great friends or find similar voices to stand with me. Thank you 🙂

  13. I’ve been through this stage as a child, growing into being afraid to question the system we are part of. How society throw all kind of ridiculous thing in the name of morality making us robots. We need to break away. Glad you wrote about it Shalini and takes years to wipe the scars suffered or what is childhood issues haunting us as adults.

    1. I hear you Vishal and thank you for the support. It has felt so good to write about this and feel a bit relieved to read everyone’s comments on this post. I am humbled by all the support I have gotten so far on this.

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