Are You Too Critical?

Can I be honest with you? I absolutely hate being criticized. It's one of my biggest pressure points, and probably the number one reason I've spent a majority of my life trying to be ‘perfect’. Although I know it’s a completely unrealistic expectation, for some reason I believed it was attainable. 

Yep, it’s true. 

And, it’s landed me in trouble a time or two. Like the time my Sunday School teacher called my mom to tell her I had criticized another little girls hairstyle before our big church cantata. Or, the time I decided to be negative about another girl in the youth group to a bunch of girls in the bathroom (not realizing she was in the bathroom stall). And, I won’t get into all the times I’ve done it as an adult. You’ll just have trust me on that one. 

Now a-days, I refer to myself as a ‘perfectionist in recovery’. Meaning I’ve spent many years trying to overcome my critical nature, and negative mindset. But it wasn’t until recently that I realized where it all started, and just how I could start to change my mindset. 

So friend, can you relate?

Maybe you clicked on the blog out of curiosity. But, perhaps you may be like me and wonder if your critical nature is keeping you from accomplishing your purpose. So, before I go any further, I do want to offer some encouragement — there is hope! If you do find that you struggle with a critical mindset, you can work to turn it around. But, it will take some serious work. 

So maybe you are asking, 'how do I know whether or not I am too critical?’

Here are five traits of someone who has fallen into the cycle of negativity:

  • Holding yourself or others to unrealistic expectations.
  • Talking negatively about someone to feel better about yourself.
  • Complaining about your situation when you have the power to change it.
  • Having the need to fix others, to make yourself look good. 
  • Getting frustrated with others (and yourself) when things don’t go your way. 

And, those are just a start. Maybe you see yourself in all or some of those things. If you do, it’s time to take the first step which — acknowledge that you can choose to be positive. 

The need to criticize comes ourselves and others comes from a place of pain, and keeps us bound up in hurt, and unforgiveness. When we give in to it, we are actually sabotaging our own destiny. It’s not that we want to be critical, it’s more that we don’t want to acknowledge the deficiency we see in our own lives. Instead we focus that all that negative energy on what is not working, rather than towards what is possible. The result is shame and condemnation. 

When is the last time, you allowed shame to take the place of empathy? First towards yourself, and then towards others. Stepping into true vulnerability is the only way to release ourselves from the negativity that we become trapped in. Vulnerability can be a difficult thing, because it requires us to release ourselves from the pressure of being who we think we need to be, in order to be who God made us to be.

 Now that you have taken the first step, it’s time follow through. I have created a worksheet to guide you through the process of reversing this negative cycle in your life. This is something that I do on a daily basis, and I believe it will help you as well. Click on the button to download it. 



Who Else Wants To Adopt A 'Yes I Can' Mindset?

As we sat there over the phone, silence on either end, I waited. It felt a little awkward; but I knew that she was on the edge of having her first breakthrough, and I didn’t want to miss it because I said too much or too little. After a few minutes, she squeaked out the hidden sadness that been holding her back. Her words held shame and freedom all the same breath, “my whole life I’ve felt like I have been waiting for something good to happen to me." There it was. I could tell that the words wore her down; and so we sat in a few more seconds of silence as she let that revelation wash over her. And, as she said the words, my own heart started to beat faster. I could relate all too easy to those words, those feelings. It wasn’t that long ago, that I too, was waiting, hoping, and praying that if I did something just right I might earn God’s divine approval, and my life would magically fall into place. 

I’m not sure where I came up with this weird theology that I can actually earn God’s favour, but I spent years trying to accomplish it. To no avail I would lean into leadership, bend over backwards to help where I thought I would be noticed. All for the sake of trying to be the best. For me, it was my need to get noticed. By both God and those in leadership over me. Thinking about it now makes my stomach turn. Sadly, it never donned on me to ask God what He wanted me to do. There could have been multiple reasons for that, but I was mostly afraid of what He might say, and I would be left with broken dreams. My biggest fear of course being being that I would live this terribly unhappy and unfulfilled life. So I kept Him at arms length, and myself locked in the shame of my disappointment.

At this point, you may be wondering what any of this has to do with adopting a ‘YES I CAN’ mindset. Well, everything really. My journey has lead me to this place, but you may have found yourself on a different path. As a kid you may have heard the word ‘NO’ substantially more than you ever heard ‘YES’, so you developed a mindset that locked you into believing that you would never be able to access your dreams. It could have been that your parents battled with their own fears, and they handed them down to you. Unknowingly you took them on, and have walked the same path.

It could have been later in life that you were so eager to please that you walked front footed into the most amazing opportunity. But, there you were met with humiliation, forcing you to believe that you would never be enough. No matter what you tried, you would never gain access to the dreams that you held deep inside.  

My story is not unlike yours, except that I faced humiliation at a young age. It was the first time my spirit was crushed, and it was during show and tell in my kindergarten class. My teacher, probably trying her best to instruct me, said words that shot to my bones. Over a period of several days I had been sharing the same news with my class that I would be moving to another province at the end of the school year. It was likely that my little mind needed to process the upcoming events, but my teacher told me that I was not allowed to share anymore, and that I had to come up with another show and tell. Now, I know this seems silly, but to a five year old who is wide eyed and excited, those words shut me down. It was then that I stopped sharing altogether. 

When we stop believing that we are capable of doing what has been put in our hands to do, our dreams are quietly pulled from our grasp. We subtly make an agreement that we have to earn our way back. But, that just isn’t true. It may start with re-awakening to the possibilities around you, to lean into what is possible. But at the end of the day, as adults we have to severe the thoughts of the past - the humiliation, defeat and discouragement; so that we can start saying ‘yes’ to what we have been called to do. 

Developing a ‘yes I can’ mindset doesn’t happen on it’s own. It’s cultivated and nurtured. But the good news is that it is possible, and that you are the only one who can make it happen.  


How To Eliminate A Negative Mindset

The very first moments you wake up in the morning have a direct impact on how you face your day. Can you believe that before you even swing your legs off the bed and onto the floor in the morning, you have already determined your mindset for what is to come? It’s crazy to think that within the first two to three minutes of the day, you have to make the choice whether or not you will be ruled by the nagging little voice in your mind. 

Mind blown, right? That is why it is so important to not only get rid of the negative thoughts that come into your mind, but to ELIMINATE them. And, when you do, just think about the freedom you’ll have from those thoughts of inadequacy and self doubt. 

Ok, friend so let me ask you a question... have you ever woke up from a dream and then spent the first hour of the day trying to shake off that terrible feeling of impending doom? I’m certain I’m not alone here. 

As we sleep our subconscious is working over time to process through our thoughts and emotions. As our body is getting rest, our mind is still working away, filing our experiences away. That is why it is vitally important to fill our minds with positive thoughts before we go to sleep, and as soon as we wake up in the morning.

Now, I have to admit that I am guilty of waking up and checking my social media first thing. This starts a massive negative spiral downwards. My motivation depletes which results in lack of productivity. Not to mention, I am not a morning person to begin with. I am training myself to wake up and immediately start my day with thoughts that will bring me success. 

Our thoughts influence our emotions, our emotions dictate our actions, and our actions lead to a result. Sounds like bad news, and no one wants that. So, lets not only get rid of those toxic thoughts, but ELIMINATE them once and for all. 

Here’s the good news. YES! There is good news my friend. Your thoughts are not you! Sounds simple enough. However, they do work to guard and protect you from harm. They are the mechanism through which your process past experiences and emotions. Picture them as a gateway or a body guard. So, yes - you absolutely need your mind to process what happens in your life. But, you definitely don’t want you thoughts ruling the roost. 

Now, you may be thinking, ‘that’s great Andrea, but how do I get rid of these limiting beliefs?’ 

Great question! Honestly, it does’t happen overnight. In fact it’s a process of daily setting aside time to rewire your thought patterns. Get ready, because I am going to share something that will transform your perspective. We are composed of three things - a body, a soul (thoughts, emotions & will) and a spirit. But what happens is, when we only focus on the first two (body and soul), we allow them to dictate our wants and desires. So when we start having negative thoughts, it negatively affects our emotions and so on.

So, let me suggest what we need to focus on is our SPIRIT!

After many years of battling with my own negative mindset, I am more resolute than ever on making my spirit (who I will call ‘Real Andrea’) the boss. In doing so, I am committed to firing my inner critic (who I will call ‘Judge Andrea’). And, I want to encourage you to join me. For the next fourteen days (including today) I will be going live in a private Facebook Group giving away helpful tips on how you can daily overcome your negative mindset. 

To help you get started on this this journey, I have written a Daily Mindset Guide with practical tools for you to begin rewiring your thought patterns. You can download your copy here, and get started right away. 

Can’t wait to see you over in the Facebook group

5 Amazing Secrets Of A Winning Mindset

When I was a kid, I desperately wanted to learn how to water ski. My family would go to the cottage every year. We would spend all day at the beach with hopes that my uncle would start up the boat so we could all go water skiing. I wasn’t what you would call athletic, I was more the musical type. Standing at the edge of the beach, I would watch cousin after cousin pop out of the water and ski around the lake, making a huge splash upon returning to shore. Everyone on the beach would applaud. Until I tried. Time after frustrating time, I would get half way out of the water, then take a nose dive into the lake, face full of water. Completely humiliated, I would give up after several sad attempts. Trust me when I say that I did not feel like a winner. 

I’ve often thought what gives someone that edge; a winning mindset. How are some people just wired to be successful in what they do. Are they born with a natural inclination to do well, do they come out of the womb winners? It can’t be. We are taught how to win. Some of us just catch on sooner than others. 

Over the past week I’ve been enjoying the summer olympics. My favourite summer sport takes place in the pool. I guess I have an affinity for water sports. And as one does, I love a good underdog story. Just this morning I woke up to find out that a female Canadian swimmer named Penny Olesiak had just won her fourth olympic medal at sixteen years of age. Unbelievable! But what made it more amazing was that in her final race, she came from a seventh place start to win a gold medal. Absolutely amazing!!

Ok, maybe you are thinking… how does this apply to my life? Well, hold on. I believe that we can take so many great lessons from these amazing athletes and apply them to our own lives. Here are five AMAZING secrets that are going to take you from the back of the line to a winning mindset. 

1) See your mistakes as way to grow and learn. When we see our mistakes as truly valuable then we will be able to gauge how we can move forward, and the momentum will propel us closer to where we want to be. 

2) Be coachable. A winner doesn’t arrive at their destination all alone. There is a team of coaches and trainers who have been with them the entire way. I may be a little biased here (being a coach and all), but I know that people who are coached are more likely to succeed than the average person. The reason for that is because they are willing to be given feedback. Sit with that for a second.

3) Never give up. If I had known this as a kid I would have fearlessly got up again and tried over and over. Maybe you can relate! Is there something in your life that feels impossible right now? Don’t ever give up! If you have it in your heart then fearlessly (or fearfully) go after it.

4) Develop a strong work ethic. Get up early in the morning. Keep from distractions. Do whatever it takes to hone your craft, and to become the best at what you do. 

5) Guard your mind. We can learn a lot from olympians who keep themselves separate from the masses. They do this to keep their minds right. Only allowing their team access to them gives them the upper hand. This is gold!! Imagine the difference in your life when you stop listening to what others have to say about your life, and stay focused on what God says about your life. 

I want to leave you with this thought. It took me a long time to realize that standing humiliated on the side of the beach was going to the catalysts to make me winner later in life. It was the journey I was meant to take. No longer do I stand on the side lines watching everyone else. I’m in the game, training to win!!

Get after it!