When You’re Your Worst Critic

Do you have a project you dread doing? One that squiggles around in your mind when you’re trying to go to sleep? One you push further into the cobwebs hoping you’ll wake up to a magical fairy having done it for you?

This morning I scrounged into the depths of my refrigerator, pulling out bits of leftover rice, a hamburger, a half serving of taco salad from two nights ago and some corn.

“Um, husband, do you think if I put all this together it would make a lunch for you?”

After he left for work I realized the time had come. I pulled out various containers of this and that. The further back into the refrigerator I went the scarier it got. I grabbed the trash and got to work.

Then voices started in my head. You wasted that. Shame on you. You should have eaten that last week. As the project continued the voices chattered on, You always do this. Clean the refrigerator and then swear this time it will be different. This time you will keep better track when to eat what. Here we are again. You shouldn’t even bother.

I set the moldy cabbage (one of these days I’m actually going to learn to make cabbage!) on the counter and said to myself, “Self, that’s enough. I’m proud of you for showing up and cleaning up your mess. Of course, you didn’t mean to waste food. You are doing a great job now cleaning out the refrigerator.”

I shut down to voices of criticism, judgment, and negativity and talked to myself the way I would if a friend was discouraged. I talked to myself the way you would most likely talk to me if you were standing in my kitchen with me.

And you know what? The project wasn’t so bad. I was brave enough to look in the dark corners that I’ve ignored for far too long. The Kombucha that I’ve been meaning to drink since Catie left for Germany—two years ago. Into the garbage. The Elderberry syrup I made winter before last. Into the garbage. As I rearranged what I had left I loved all the new found space.

Usually, I dread cleaning the refrigerator because by the time I’m done I feel miserable. And no wonder, with all that negative chatter in my head. But not today! When I was done I celebrated showing up and doing a job I didn’t want to do. The reality is, the food was already destined for the garbage, there was no way I could change that. The only thing I could control is my attitude. It helped to recognize I’m human, and humans aren’t perfect. If I was perfect, I’d be God! I smiled when I looked at the finished project and saw sparkling shelves with food clearly visible that we enjoy and will eat.

That motivated me to tackle the freezer. You know what? Saying nice things to myself helped me finish that project too. And it wasn’t so bad. I learned a few things too. It’s important to seal the spinach because if you don’t it gets all crumbly and leaves a big mess in the bottom of the freezer. And no one needs five bags of corn. Or eight ice packs. Seriously, who has eight ice packs?

So what about you? What project are you ignoring? What would happen if you were gracious, gentle, and kind towards yourself while you tackled it? Leave me a comment and let me know how it went, I’d love to cheer you on!


    • It’s scary what ice-crystal laden thing is at the bottom of the freezer! I thawed out what I thought was spaghetti sauce to realize I had tomato paste to serve for supper. 😉


    I too loved this. I did a dreaded project outside and talked positively to myself. Guess what, I too found the dreaded project actually became an encouragement to me. It is done.
    I am happy, and now ready to tackle my next project.
    Well, not really. I think I’d rather go read my book. 🙂

  2. I love how this is symbolic of dreading tackling the things we hide in the deep recesses of our minds. It seems like the deeper it is, the uglier and moldier it can get! I tackled vacuuming and using the steam cleaner on my van yesterday. It was so disgusting from food crusted on the seats and floor from me allowing my kids to eat in there! It looks much better now, but I dreaded doing it. It took a long time to finish, but I’m glad I did it.

  3. Nancy – so helpful. My project I am dreading is cleaning out a closet and taking a LOT of stuff to the Salvation Army. I know I’ll feel better once it is done just for the decluttering feels so much organized and clean! Thanks for the reminder.

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