Most of us know the story of the Grinch who stole Christmas. Year after year, that green jerk pops up on TV screens around the world to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting town of Whoville. We watch as he tries his hardest to ruin the festivities, and we celebrate the unshakable Christmas spirit of the Whos.
I’m sure you know the story well, but what would you do if there was a real Grinch in your life? What if I told you this Grinch didn’t live far away at the top of Mount Crumpit, but right inside your home?
Your Inner Critic is the Real Grinch
It is your inner voice that attempts to make your heart two sizes two small, wreaking havoc on yourself and others. Unlike the original Grinch, your critical inner voice will still be around after the holidays, but this is a great time to practice overcoming it. Once we learn to recognize the voice of our inner critic, we can overcome it. You deserve a happy ending just as much as the Whos!
I remember the year that my inner Grinch almost succeeded at stealing my Christmas joy.
Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love the wonder of the Christmas story, I love the traditions, I love the special feeling you get on Christmas morning, and I especially love decorating the tree! So, every year on the day after Thanksgiving, my family and I go to the local farmer’s market to pick out the “perfect” 13 foot tree. Every year…with just one exception.
One year, we were a few days late and to our surprise, all the big trees were already gone– I was so disappointed! It felt like the tree farmer had personally sold every big tree just so I couldn’t have one. My inner Grinch had definitely taken over and nobody was safe from the negativity– I was making myself and everyone around me miserable over a silly tree. When I realized how silly it was to let something so insignificant ruin a fun tradition, I sent the Grinch packing and chose to enjoy the time with my family.
I learned three important lessons that year:
- The wonder of Christmas is about the Christmas miracle.
- The joy of Christmas is the love we share together.
- Gratitude has the power to take stories back from your inner critic.
Four Common Thoughts to Challenge this Year
The inner critic has plenty of material to work with during the holidays because it thrives when we are stressed. Critical thoughts can manifest as perfectionism, a scarcity mindset, social comparison, or a need to do everything yourself.
Gratitude is the key to overcoming your inner critic. We call it “practicing gratitude” because it does take some practice, but each time you challenge a limiting thought, you get one step closer to transforming your mindset.
Start by replacing these common negative thoughts with gratitude.
“If it’s not perfect, it isn’t good enough!”
Perfectionism is a classic tool of the inner critic. “Perfect” is an unattainable goal that will leave you feeling drained and defeated. The perfectionist mindset impedes progress because it keeps you from moving when things are good enough.
Challenge it with gratitude #1
Instead of asking yourself if something is perfect, ask if it is good enough to move forward. Remember that you can always make adjustments as you go, but it is better to move forward than remain stuck indefinitely. Be grateful for the things that are going well instead of fixating on the small things that aren’t.
“I don’t have enough….”
…Presents under the tree, decorations around the house, food for the party, time for all the festivities, etc. If you find yourself dwelling on what you don’t have, that is a sign that your inner critic has taken the wheel.
Challenge it with gratitude #2
Make a conscious effort to shift your focus to what you do have. We call this “practicing gratitude” because it does take some practice, but every time you challenge a limiting thought, you get one step closer to transforming your mindset.
“I wish I were more like ______! They go all out for the holidays.”
Comparing yourself to others is one of the inner critic’s favorite tricks. It is easy to feel like nothing you do is good enough when you get stuck in a cycle of constant comparison.
Challenge it with gratitude #3
Focus on what you are proud of instead of tearing yourself down for not being like everyone else. Instead of wishing you baked Christmas cookies as well as the neighbors, remember how much everyone loves your homemade pie!
“I have to take care of everything!”
This is one of the covert sabotage techniques of the inner critic. This do-it-all mentality stems from a fear of not being good enough, creating a desire to “make up for it” by running yourself ragged.
Challenge it with gratitude:
Understand that you deserve to be appreciated for who you are, not what you do. Consider how your special talents and unique characteristics bring value to the people around you; there are things you do better than anyone else, so focus on those things instead of taking on everything that comes your way.
Hold on to Your Happy Ending
“’Maybe Christmas,’ he thought, ‘doesn’t come from a store.’
‘Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!’
And what happened then? Well…in Whoville they say,
That the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day!”
– Dr. Suess, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
The Whos woke up to empty houses and ransacked trees, but that didn’t dampen their spirit. Instead of being sad, they were grateful for the chance to celebrate together. In the end, despite his best efforts, the Grinch didn’t manage to steal anyone’s Christmas spirit.
This holiday season, take a lesson from the Whos in Whoville: replace the negative self-talk of your inner critic with gratitude. Don’t let your inner Grinch steal Christmas, and don’t let your inner critic bring you down in the new year, either!
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