The older I get, the more I notice that I grapple with the same handful of personal demons. I assume this is normal: that one’s faults are a continual work in progress that are less likely to change (i.e. completely go away) with age. But with a focus on self-improvement and self-awareness, I keep trying to slay mine… and usually find myself groaning, “Oh, this old thing again?”

These negative nags in my head over-analyze, self-doubt, and sometimes even self-loathe. And more often than not, they whisper echoes of incongruence and invisibility.

It’s easy to blame my environment when I am feeling threatened and/or insecure. Instead of examining why I allow myself to fall prey to my critical, reactionary other self, I point the finger at others. In doing so, I shirk responsibility and feed the cycle. (Thanks to Anthony Juliano for working with me on changing that.)

[W]e tend to take things personally that aren’t, look for what’s wrong, and critically judge the people around us and ourselves, instead of bringing a sense of love, understanding, acceptance, forgiveness and appreciation to the most important (and often most challenging) situations and relationships in our lives.

Mike Robbins goes on to outline five action items to counteract your inner snarky self-doubter. I have a pretty good grasp on all but two–the two demons I mentioned earlier: #2 of not taking things too personally and #5, being gentle. I am my own worst critic, and it’s difficult not to psychologically project those fears, doubts, and perceived shortcomings onto others. Like when you see a zit in the mirror while getting ready for work and think that everyone’s staring it all day long.

The thing I tend to forget is (as Robbins points out), most of the time, folks are just doing “what they think makes the most sense”–even if that doesn’t make sense to us personally. We’re all doing the best we can, even me. I need less critical nagging and more gentle kindness–on all fronts. The rest will follow suit.

“And when we’re able to have this same awareness and compassion in how we relate to ourselves, we can dramatically alter our lives and relationships in a positive way,” advises Robbins.

Today, I’m choosing to ignore the zit, focusing instead on my smile. My genuine best smile. When you see it, you’ll know. And maybe you’ll even smile in return.


  1. Great post Ashley. I discovered your new blog today and had a chance to read through your posts this morning before starting my day. May we all possess such insight into ourselves and others… a work in progress, and something I struggle with everyday.

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