Everyone, no matter their level of success in life, struggles with their inner critic.
It’s just how it is.
Most of my twenties were controlled by the debilitating beliefs that are often the side-effect of a too harsh inner critic. I was often paralyzed by fear. Wrecked by insecurity. I struggled with high-functioning depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Charles Bukowski almost didn’t become the writer he had always dreamt of being. He worked in a post-office until his fifties, even though he tried and often failed to earn enough from his writing so he could quit his job.
Abraham Lincoln failed time and time again. He lost his bid for State Legislature when he was 23 years old. Six years later, he lost his bid to become Speaker in the Illinois House of Representatives.
In 1848, at the age of 39, Lincoln failed to become Commissioner of the General Land Office in D.C. Ten years later, he failed to become a U.S. Senator.
The obvious issue with self-help is this: its ultimate goal is to reach a point where you no longer need it.
Think about it: The whole goal of personal growth is to build yourself to be the person you’ve always wanted. The whole point of pursuing happiness is to reach a point where happiness no longer has to be pursued.
Destiny is not what happens to you, but how you react to what happens to you.
There’s this story about Winston Churchill who, after the Japanese bombed Hong Kong and Singapore, forcing Great Britain to declare war, he signed off with the following words, “I have the honour to be, with high consideration, Sir, Your obedient servant.”
For most of my twenties, there were so many things I didn’t want to be true about myself, yet I somehow thought them to be facts.
I believed I was quite unlovable, which was my excuse for not trying to be worthy of love in any way. I believed I’d always struggle financially, so I made no serious effort to earn more, to save more, or to build multiple streams of income.
I believed that life was harsh, that people didn’t like me for being skinny, kind of ugly, and not nearly as charming as everyone else, so I lived in a state of perpetual fear — I somehow expected the world to decide that I wasn’t worthy of living on this planet anymore and send me off to spend the rest of my life on the dark side of the moon or something.
In his 2008 release, Outliers, journalist Malcolm Gladwell introduced the notion that one has to spend 10,000 hours working at their craft before they can become a true master.
Now, even though the idea is catchy, and it’s a valid one indeed, there’s a lot to be said about the kind of work one has to put. It’s not just work-work, but it’s working towards mastery, a competitive and aggressive way of working towards bettering yourself day in and day out.
10,000 hours of that, and you’ll become so good they can’t ignore you.