Giving Up the CriticSep 01, 2021
I take pride in my good taste. Good sense of style, good eye for design, a well-seasoned palate, an evolved philosophical outlook, an intellectual understanding of lyrics, an ornate recognition of all things quality, luxury and excellence.
That's a lotta ego, huh?
I'm even known to throw around star-ratings like I'm some type of Michelin inspector for everything that exists.
"Five stars for that ice cream cone."
"Four stars for this ambiance."
"Three stars for that interaction."
"Two stars for the comfortability of this chair."
"One solid star for that guy's attitude."
I'm not even kidding.
People look to me for restaurant recommendations, weekend plans, travel pointers and fashion advice alike - constantly reinforcing my critic's flamboyant ego. The strokes eventually turned into identification and identification is when sh*t gets real.
The ego loves to identify with things. It's what it does best. It can be represented by things as tame as your favorite flavor of ice cream to things as problematic as your social status. So while I'm not fighting tooth and nail to get over my cookies and cream preference, I'm definitely going to loosen the reigns on my addiction to quality and judgment.
The last time I remember identifying with something this much was when I was in high school. I was notorious for my blindingly dark sense of humor. Sure, I still make some pretty sick jokes, but not to the degree of negativity I used to. More than that, this negativity wasn't just in the container of my humor, it crept into my entire life (as identities do). I was angry, resentful, dissatisfied and bitter. My relationship with myself was trash. My environment was no good in my eyes. I was even called out by people close to me for being so... negative.
But it was hard. This part of me still won me friends and laughs. It made me unique and witty. I actually liked some of it. It took taking off my oversized, blackout sunglasses and turning on all the lights to really see how damaging this identity was. I decided that no matter how much good I thought it brought, I could certainly do better. I learned that to let go of this, I had to let go of my identity as I knew it.
And I thrived. A little cynicism is just used as garnish now; It's never the main event. Positivity is now my baseline and people notice - even compliment me on that. I am healthier, happier and wildly, even funnier. What I say now is authentically mine and more often than not, there is a joy behind it that's much more radiantly contagious than the former.
So here I am now with the lights on and my bougie, less tinted sunglasses off, facing the same ego-situation, but a different beast. My stomach clenched at the idea of letting go of this part of me I've identified so long with. I breathe into it and soothe myself with words like, "in moderation," "when needed," "you're enough," "there's more to life," and "you're safe." I remind myself of the freedom on the other side and the wholeness that has always been right here.
It's not that I can't have taste, some expectations and a desire for quality, it's just identifying with it creates a disconnect between me and my highest self. When I identify deeply, the stranglehold I have on it cuts off my flow. Criticism is meant for a specific container, but not my daily life.
Little by little, I choose to let go.
What's a part of you that you identify with that doesn't serve you anymore?
Blind spots here? Reach out to me and we'll set you free.