I haven’t written much this year. If I have, it has been in personal journals or blog drafts waiting to be published. My lack of writing hasn’t been from lack of inspiration or passion. As previous post have mentioned, putting my thoughts and feelings out there is not easy for me. I worry about how things will be taken or if the post will be good enough…I’m sure you can relate and understand on some level.
The truth is…the critic I was most scared of this year is shame. I would picture one person coming back with a comment about how divorce had discredited any of my views/thoughts/opinions about everything. I knew if this was what was the thought driving this car I was not in a healthy place to put myself out there, so I’ve stayed mostly quiet and have done A LOT of stillness.
This critic is still just as loud today, but I’ve discovered it’s kryptonite.
There are some hot topic discussions out there on the daily about racism, assault, oppression…what I have learned is it’s not the critic that has the loudest voice during these heightened emotional debates, even thought they might like to think it is. If you think about any controversial issue, the first person that accompany these thoughts are probably the critic…but the one that has the lasting impression is (for me) always the advocate. The truth is, the critic an immediate effect, but it often dies off and is usually forgotten about. The slow, steady, and passionate advocate is still there allowing their beliefs to guide them.
Think about a movie critic. They give their piece of advice, rarely positive and most times negative. People read it and eventually forget what it says…especially after they have seen the movie and connected with it. They own a stake in their opinion of this movie.
There have been a lot of critics over the last year that are loud and persuasive. I often times give them way too much credit in how I view myself. Then there are those that have viewed the movie…some that have even been a part of it. They were the behind-the-scenes hands and voices that get little recognition at the awards shows. They were the advocates. The movie exists because they put in the time and effort and love and passion into making it happen. The lead actor can only do so much before their energy is depleted. Once it is depleted, the team behind him steps their game up and rallies…better yet, in a really good movie…an epic movie…the lead actor never gets tired. His advocates support him and they work together to make a beautiful film….TOGETHER.
You may be asking yourself what this looks like realistically…
in my life, it looked like this….
*instead of hearing “she could be doing better”- she heard “she’s doing the very best she can”
*instead of hearing “you aren’t included”- she heard “we don’t have much, but we can give you what you need”
*instead of hearing “you should make better/other choices”- she heard “I haven’t walked in your shoes and I don’t fully know what you have been through, I can’t judge your choices”
*instead of isolation-she experienced invitations
*instead of avoidance-she experienced major bear hugs (and if you’ve read my blog you know how I am with hugs)
*instead of hateful messages-she received messages of empathy
*instead of assumptions-she received questions
*instead of hate-she received love
*instead of assumptions of the worst-she received understanding
*instead of higher expectations-she received grace
*instead of judgment-she received empathy
*instead of avoidance-she received an invitation for her side to be heard
*instead of “consequences”-she received support
When I found myself in a position of standing up for myself or facing my harshest critics, all I wanted to do was hush the advocate and believe the critic carried more weight. But, here I am a year and a half later and I can still remember the sting of each critic, but then those beautiful moments of advocacy pop up and those critics are silenced.
Do you know who the most impressionable advocate that has immerged has been? Myself. Once those critics had been silenced and those advocates arose to fight the battle I was too weak to fight myself, I realized that the critics had a biased lens. Sometimes that lens was a trend and sometimes each person’s lens was specifically created from their past, but once I could see that their words weren’t about who I was, but more about who they were, I found freedom. I found freedom to draw the conclusion of who I am from my own opinions.
Now, never listening to the opinions of others can also lead to it’s own set of issues, but what was important to remember is when an advocate comes to you with a concern about a concern of your behaivor or choices, it’s from a place of love….NOT judgment.
Love (to me) looks like this:
“Hey, something isn’t sitting well with me about a decision you made. I’m sure I am unaware of things that brought you to that decision, so I wanted to have a conversation so I can fully understand and we can talk from there”.
Who are your critics? More importantly, who are your advocates? Most importantly, have you found the advocate within?