Giving my Harsh Inner Critic a Name

Realizing some hard truths about myself recently. My Enneagram Type 1-ness has really been apparent. My harsh inner critic is constantly talking to me about what I could do better, what should be done, how it should be done, how my family should behave, etc. It’s exhausting. But, it’s so clear to me now how The Happiness Trap and ACT are so impactful for me. I’m never going to silence the inner critic, but I sure can defuse the thoughts and not believe everything she’s telling me. I really ought to give her a name…


Another layer of this dichotomy I’ve come to recognize in my life – surrendering versus controlling; being “in my head” versus present in the moment; paying attention to thoughts versus feelings, etc. – is trying to improve my loved ones versus just loving them. It’s ironic, I’ve had “Only Love Today” popping up on my phone as a daily reminder for over a year. But, what does that mean in practice? It probably means not commenting on everything Sienna could do better or differently, from her room cleanliness to her choice of words in a writing assignment. Probably looks like not criticizing the way Dennis talks to the kids. Like I’m so good at only speaking lovingly to them?! Probably looks like giving Mateo comfort when he’s sad at night, instead of being irritable that his emotional outburst is throwing off my “plan” for the evening. Yep, probably all of those things… and more.

Last week, as Sienna and I drove downtown for a mother/daughter date, I talked to her about my struggles to let go of needing things to be a certain way. I asked her if she feels like things are never good enough for me, when I comment on her school work, bedroom cleanliness, or anything really. She agreed that those moments do hurt her feelings. I then joked that we needed to give that unhelpful voice a name. She giggled and suggested: “How about Nutzo Butzo!”

I cracked up and replied, “That’s perfect! I love it. It’s silly so I can easily dismiss her. Then, when I criticize something you can say, ‘Mom, did Nutzo Butzo tell you to say that?’”

I’m reading and journaling through a devotional this year by Shauna Niequist called Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are. Today’s devotion is called “More Love, Less Hustle” and her definition of hustle is the “voice that says you’re never done, you have to push harder, think ahead, plan ahead, hold it together, go, go, go.”

Oh, the voice that tells me to hurry up, get something done, rush, rush, rush. Her name is Nutzo Butzo and she tells me that everything depends on me – my efforts, my planning, me, me, me. When I ignore this voice and focus my awareness on the people I love, the people I meet, our church and school families, life is infinitely fuller, richer and more connected. What ultimately drives me to hustle? A feeling that things aren’t quite right, not yet perfected, and needing to be changed or fixed. This side of Christ’s return, our fallen world will always be broken. It’s much wiser to accept this fact and spend my energy loving the people God puts in my path during this particular moment. There I can do some good, there I can fulfill a need or lessen someone’s burden. Hustling doesn’t facilitate connection. Love does.

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