Observer > Critic (A Habit That Could Help Us All In 2017)


Let’s get real today, my frens.* The new year sometimes brings up a lot of introspective thoughts and feelings. Of course I AM NO EXPERT on introspective thoughts and feelings – I can only say that I HAVE A LOT OF THEM. Sometimes they distract me from focusing on what’s important, sometimes they keep me up at night, and sometimes they make me break down crying. This is who I am. In addition to being the Waffle Queen™ I am also the Perfectionist™ and the Overcommiter™ and the Person Who Thinks She Can Do Literally Everything™ – but I CAN’T AND I AM DELUSIONAL. So how do I stop??

Well guys, I’ve thought about that question for a while. And I’ve come to a slightly disappointing conclusion – I can’t stop. Not immediately. Not with a snap of my fingers. Not by reading a life-changing article about how I should be kind to myself. The change is a slow and painful process and I’M STILL EXPLORING. I’m absolutely no expert. But what I’ve discovered so far has changed the way I see myself and my life and obviously I’m cool enough to share that with y’all. So get yourself a therapeutic waffle and let’s talk.

*LOL NO I am not suggesting in any way that I’m not ALWAYS real with y’all. Because I am. REALLY in love with waffles.

Basically everyone. This is a mantra I’ve heard from several people: “Be an observer of yourself rather than a critic.” And at first I TOTALLY BRUSHED IT ASIDE. Like “yeah that sounds nice but lol I’m hard on myself that’s just who I am.” But lately I’ve come to the realization that critics have a hard time accepting that they criticize themselves. I speak for myself here, but I’ve seen the same struggle in other faces.

We live in a world driven by achievement and accomplishment. The harder we work, the more we are praised. In my subconscious, I can practically feel an unhealthy mantra guiding me every day: “WORK HARDER WORK FASTER.” (It’s not a good mantra, guys. Don’t adopt it just because the Waffle Queen™ is stupid enough to believe it from time to time.*) A critic is a person who watches what they do with a careful eye and notices the need for improvement everywhere. A critic is a person who sees the lack when they look in the mirror. 

Basically no one. I have witnessed a few rare souls either live by this or drift in and out of it. AND LET ME TELL YOU IT IS A BEAUTIFUL THING. We live in a world not only driven by SUCCESS** but driven by the idea of: be mean to yourself, THEN be kind to yourself. Whether we’re talking about college or exercise, it’s a common thing to push yourself hard and suffer through the pain and the struggle…then reward yourself afterward. (I could get really philosophical here and talk about how the human spirit is great at persevering through hardships to get to the good thing beyond the finish line. But if you want to read my philosophical ramblings you’ll go find a copy of The Waffle Queen Essays On Life™ and we shall speak no more.)

What if every breath is a finish line? What if we found ease and kindness in the struggle? Guys, I jerk myself around a lot. I want to be perfect and I’m not willing to admit that I’m far from perfect. The more mistakes I make, the more I want to be my own Drill Sargent. Guys, it wasn’t until probably a month ago that I started seeing things differently. The way an observer sees things.

An observer is someone who looks at herself and notices the things she finds – perhaps a shortcoming or a success or feeling of pain or a feeling of happiness – and looks at it. BUT THAT’S IT NO MORE. An observer doesn’t criticize herself. An observer is okay with where she is right now, in this moment. Am I an observer?? NO. NOT YET. But guys, I aim to be.

*Okay fine basically every day but I’M TRYING TO CHANGE.
**Please read that with like a movie trailer narrator voice and imagine an epic bass drop in the background.

THE YEAR CHANGED JUST RECENTLY DID ANYONE NOTICE THAT?? It’s hard for me to resist making giant lists of New Year Resolutions* but this year I’ve been focusing more on listening to my needs – in body or mind or spirit. Because after a while, I become deaf to those little voices crying out for my help. So I’ve picked up two habits that have helped me listen more to myself. AND WHO KNOWS – maybe they’ll help you too, if you’re feeling the same struggle.

*For instance this year I MADE A GIANT LIST OF NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS. What do you know about that.

I’ve never been good at keeping journals. But this one is different. This one is a messy mess of one’s head, splattered onto a page. (No, that’s not how everyone describes it. But that’s how I describe it so MUHAHAHA.) Bullet journals, AS WE ALL KNOW, are taking over the world. You would think a journal hoarder like myself would have collected about 489613489 of them by now. AND BRO, I WANTED TO GET A BULLET JOURNAL. Because it’s everything I already do: organize and make lists and tick boxes and design indexes and art art art everywhere – but I stopped myself from getting one. BECAUSE OF ALL THOSE REASONS. I’m absolutely NOT against bullet journals. I think they are awesome. But at this moment in my life, I need to be messy. I need to listen to myself instead of pushing and pulling and organizing myself. Thus, I’ve jumped on the Morning Pages bandwagon.

If you’ve never heard of Morning Pages, I’ll summarize: you wake up, you grab a notebook, and you write down the clutter in your head. Basically the idea is to empty your mind of all the junk (or maybe really cool ideas) so that you can start your day with a clean slate. Sometimes I sit down and think, “Okay, what should I write today?” and the answer is always: whatever distracted me while I was meditating or trying to fall asleep. So in my experience, MY BRAIN LIKES TO PLAY AT MIDNIGHT. Sometimes I think of brilliant ideas. Instead of organizing them in a nice clean Scrivener file, I simply dump them into my journal with all my other messy thoughts and feelings. Guys, this habit has helped me beyond belief. I feel so much more at peace with myself when I clean out my brain in the morning.


The Person Who Thinks She Can Do Literally Everything™ is known for using EVERY SPARE MOMENT OF HER TIME. That means if something isn’t crossed off my to-do list, I WILL STAY UP ALL NIGHT TO FINISH THAT THING. Why?? Because I’m not kind to myself, people. Don’t follow my terrible example.

So how do I fix this problem? I say goodbye to the world and my to-do list at six o’clock every evening. THIS IS HARD, OK?? THIS IS HARDEST RESOLUTION EVER. But I know that it will get easier as I do it more often. My mind doesn’t like taking breaks. But my spirit does. I need to power off a certain time or else I can’t control my mind. And guys, stillness does not come natural to me. It’s uncomfortable to give my thinking mind a break. But I know that this is what I need. 

LOL I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT THIS POST IS. A vulnerable rant? A confession? A news item? Because now y’all know that I’m kind of mean to myself?? I’m hoping that maybe it will help someone out there. Because I’m sure I’m not alone on this island of “WORK HARDER WORK FASTER.” Do you struggle listening to your own needs? How are you changing that in 2017?

love,
abbiee


40 comments

  1. LOVE THIS POST ABBIEE <3
    Those photos are incredible too!! Did you take them?

    sophie xx
    lavender and blue
    the inkpot girl

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    1. AAAH THANK YOU SOPHIA!! <3 No, I didn't take these photos buT AREN'T THEY LOVELY :')

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  2. Wow, thank you for being so honest and vulnerable in this post! I struggle with perfectionism a lot, too, and totally understand how it disguises itself as a need to be productive or do more, more, more. I love the idea of being an observer rather than a critic - this line in particular really hit me: "A critic is a person who sees the lack when they look in the mirror." There are enough critics out there in the big, bad world. It's time I start being an observer, too! I love the journal and powering off ideas. Both are things I've been trying to work towards lately. Thank you for the encouragement. This post was delightful. :)

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    1. EEEP THANK YOU ERIN MARIE. <3 Seriously, your words mean so much to me and I'm so happy this resonated with you. :) Journaling the morning and powering off at night REALLY help. It's definitely challenging, but MMM FOOD FOR DA SOUL. <3333 *hugs u*

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  3. I love the idea of a morning journal! I think I'll try doing it foe a while, because when college classes start again I'll be too busy rushing for college than doing this. Totally love this post!

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    1. Yeah, you should totally try it, Iridescence!! I know it's really been helping me to approach my work with a clear mind. :) Thank you so much for reading!

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  4. Wow how are you so wise?!!! Thank you for being vulnerable and raw and writing this for us to read :))

    I definitely need to take this to heart a little. I admit while I was reading it I tried not to let myself agree with you because, in my experience, success only comes from the hardship and the late nights and working your butt off for a dream. And I still for the most part believe that, but I realized by reading this that I was doing too many things at once. Idk, still don't know what my new year's resolutions are, but what I do know is that I LOVED THIS POST, and it spurred some much-needed thought in me, so thanks for that, Abbie :)))

    you are a true gem, my friend

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    1. ASDFGHJKL THANK YOU MARY SHELLEY MY DEAR YOU ARE SO KIND. :'''') I'm glad you had an experience while reading this -- and I agree, dreams only come true though plans and perseverance and lots of hard work. I'm trying to see if I can invite a little ease and grace into the work. ;) EEEEP I'M SO HAPPY YOU LIKED THIS POST. <3 Thank you for reading. YOU are a gem.

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  5. OH GRACIOUS I loved this post so much *lots of applause*. Thank you for being so honest - I LOVED what you said about keeping a Morning Journal. Though, if I were to start that (WHICH I MIGHT, SO THANKS FOR TELLING ME ABOUT IT, OH WAFFLE QUEEN) I might do both Morning Pages and Midnight Pages. Because my mind runs 100mph AT MIDNIGHT and OOH I bet a Midnight Pages would help xD.

    ANYWAYS there was my rant. Thank you so much for this, Abbie. IT WAS WONDERFUL AND YOU ARE WONDERFUL. *hugs* <3

    ~ Savannah
    scattered-scribblings.blogspot.com

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    1. THANK YOU SO MUCH SAVANNAH. <333 That means a lot to me, truly. :') OMG MIDNIGHT PAGES THAT'S A GREAT IDEA. I can sooo relate to that feeling of the brain running at 100mph at midnight omg. :'''') THE STRUGGLE IS REAL. *hugs u* Thank you so much for reading, dear!!

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    2. GLAD IT MADE YOU HAPPY :D (oh! and I tagged you for the Inspire Me tag - http://scattered-scribblings.blogspot.com/2017/01/the-inspire-me-tag.html)

      OH, ALSO - I forgot to comment on your other post (*smacks forgetful self*) but OH MY GOODNESS was your cover of Hallelujah incredible. Seriously, girl, your voice is out of this world. GREAT JOB! <3

      ~ Savannah
      scattered-scribblings.blogspot.com

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  6. This whole idea about being an observer rather than a critic really is amazing. Something I'll be thinking about doing more and more! The idea of getting all your thoughts out on paper in the morning is a great idea. I'll have to try it.

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    1. EEEP THANK YOU VANESSA. <3 I'm so happy it provoked some thought and that you like the idea of a morning journal! It's super fun and refreshing, I definitely recommend it. :)

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  7. Agh, powering off is so hard. I've been trying not to let myself feel too guilty when I take a break from homework or writing and relax for a bit, but it's a process. I've heard of morning pages before; it sounds like a great idea. Neat post. :)

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    1. IT REALLY IS THOUGH. omg. the struggle is real. *nods* Yes, morning pages seems to have been around for a while, but I somehow never head about it until recently?? idk. BUT IT'S SO NICE. Thank you for reading, Alex!!

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  8. that. is. my. life. Seriously, I'm like a slavedriver of myself sometimes! :P

    Recently, my mom's been reminding me over and over that I'm not perfect and I don't have to be, that I am enough because Someone who is on my side is. Your journal idea sounds just like what I started doing! It's still a bullet journal, but it's messy and beautiful because that's what I need right now. *sends you hugs and waffles* Let's rest up this year and learn to be okay with not being perfect. This post = what I needed to hear today. Thank you <3

    audrey caylin

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    1. *CRIES ON UR SHOULDER* I'M SO HAPPY YOU CAN RELATE AUDREY. <3 It's definitely a struggle sometimes and so hard to accept imperfection. :') I also love the fact that you're keeping a messy bullet journal THANK YOU FOR THAT. *sends YOU hugs and waffles* YOUR COMMENT = WHAT I NEEDED TO HEAR TODAY. :'''') thank you soooo much *more hugs*

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  9. OKAY I'm so so hard on myself too!! And this was super good advice, thanks love!!

    my main resolution this year is to be happier, and to get rid of those annoying, self-damaging thoughts (i may do a post on this). And this post definitely gave me some tips on how to be less hard on myself.

    <33

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    1. AGH THE STRUGGLE IS REAL. *hugs u and cries* Oooh, your resolutions sound great! And you should totally do a post on them because I would love to read it. <3 I'm so glad this spoke to you!! THANK YOU FOR READING ABBY DEAR. :')

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  10. ABBBIIIIIEEEE! Thank you for this post. I personally have to become MORE resourceful with my time, but I think these tips still apply to me. I realize that I have to be patient with myself and merciful. I need to turn of The Procrastination Machine (aka my laptop) and declutter my mind so I can do the things I love and find peace. I have to say that starting to take 30 minutes in the morning for quiet solitary time has really helped me center myself for the rest of the day. I love the journaling idea and I'm gonna have to try it. GAHHHHH! Girl, y u so inspirational? Take care, and thank you again for yet another fabulous posts ❤️❤️❤️

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    1. LIZZZZ I'M SO HAPPY YOU LIKED THIS POST. :') THANK YOU SO MUCH. omg hahaha "The Procrastination Machine" that is beautiful. xD Yes!! Quiet time in the morning is where it's at, yo. At first it's hard to carve out space for myself, but once I do it's sooo therapeutic omg <3333 ASDFGHJKL THANK YOU SO MUCH YOU ARE SO KIND. *hugs u a lot and gives you waffles*

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  11. YES YES YES FOR ALL TIME. Plus Waffle Queen Essays On Life actually needs to be a thing. SOMEONE MAKE THAT HAPPEN.

    But really. This post ahhhh it's so true. I should go shove this in my sister's face since she's going to college next year with alllll the craziness and such. XD

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    1. ASDFGHJKL THANK YOU SO MUCH SARAH. LOLOL MAYBE I WILL WRITE THAT BOOK ONE DAY. :') It would be kind of glorious. GAH yes we all need to be so much kinder to ourselves. <3 I'm so happy you liked this post!!

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  12. Thanks you so much for your honesty, Abbiee! I related to someone much of what you said...it's uncanny. Really. Your journalling idea sOundle really good, and im definitely going to give it a go!

    Thanks so much for this post, Abbiee! See, this is why I follow this blog: such original and thoughtful content!

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    1. Ps - sorry for the terrible spelling. I'm on my phone and predictive text + autocorrect = me looking like an idiot on the Internet.

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    2. THE AUTOCORRECT STRUGGLE IS REAL so I totally understand. :''') sdfghjkl I'm so happy you liked this post, Sunset!! YOU'RE TOO KIND TO ME OMG. <333 Yay!! I hope you like journaling!! I know it's really helped me. THANK YOU FOR READING DUDE.

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  13. THANK YOU SO MUCH for writing this post, dear Waffle Queen!! :) this describes my life about 99% of the time! i totally need to do this whole morning journaling thing!

    in the past year, i have started trying to enjoy the learning process more vs. just tolerating it, and this post reminded me of my goal! i'm still trying to grow into this idea of being an observer, but i think if i keep this post in mind, this year will be a great one for becoming one! thanks again for being so inspiring <3

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    1. THANK YOU SO MUCH MADELINE!! You're so kind omg. :') And yes you should totally try the morning journal! It's super fun and relaxing. Ooh that's a really cool goal -- enjoying the leaning process. Definitely something I can relate to. I usually get pretty anxious thinking about the end goal and don't enjoy the yummy in-between stuff. AW THANK YOU SO MUCH. <3 I'm so happy you liked this post!!

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  14. I commend your bravery on tackling this. It's something I have a lot of trouble with too. Them thoughts can be so mean if you let them. I also think the whole 'shutting down the to-do list at 6 pm' is wise, wise. I have a hard time with that, especially in the Summer because a lot of my jobs are outdoor ones, and the sun never turns off that time of year. Sometimes it takes me so long in the morning to get over my 'you should have gotten up sooner. You should have gone to bed earlier. You should have spent your time before going to bed wiser' scolding that I don't feel like I actually get a handle on the day till late, and then I feel like I can still get things done till like 9 or later. It's a hard, hard battle. Reminds me, my grandma used to have 2 Corinthians 10:5 written everywhere. Maybe I should do that.

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    1. EEEEP THANK YOU. :') It's definitely a struggle to shut down and even to just notice that I criticize myself way too much. And I can definitely relate to that feeling of "you should have" GOSH YES. I'VE SAID THAT SO MUCH TO MYSELF. I spend so much time regretting things that aren't that big of a deal. Mmm 2 Corinthians 10:5 is a powerful verse. :) Thank you for reading!!

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  15. WHOOOOOAAAAAAAA. I have missed your beautiful ramblings.
    Just take a step back, girl. Don't forget to breathe. These are healthy and wonderful resolutions, and I am so proud of you for making them. Just remember-even when you forget to write down your midnight ideas or you slip up and continue working past six-God loves you. No matter what.
    And gee, so do I.
    <3

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    1. REBEKAH...I'M CRYING RIGHT NOW. <333 Thank you so much for this comment. *hugs you a lot* Your words mean so much to me. Just... thank you thank you thank you. :'''') I LOVE YOU TOO GIRL.

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  16. This just speaks to my soul. I'm the first child in our family who went to college and since the day I started I was so hard on myself. I believed that I had to be the best at everything, I believed I had to study hard and though there's nothing wrong with wanting to be the best in class, I was beating myself up everytime I messed up exam or something. And I still feel a little bit of the pressure on myself, pressure I create. Not my family, not my grandparents, me. Oh and I definitely don't spend my time before bed wisely. I'd love to set up my bullet journal for the next day and peacefully read a few chapters and go to sleep but instead I'm just grasping for everything I need to do before the day's over. Bad habit. :D

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    1. SIMONA YOUR COMMENT SPEAKS TO MY SOUL. Even though I'm not attending college, I can completely relate to that feeling of being the only one putting pressure on yourself. Wow yes. Like...it's a vicious cycle and I don't know how to stop but I get so wrapped up in thinking that other people expect something from me, when really I'm the only one expecting something from me. THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS <333

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  17. YOU HAVE INSPIRED ME SO MUCH OKAY. This whole post is so inspirational like wow. Talk about motivation.
    I struggle with this so much too honestly. Especially recently, I've found out that my brain is just like -- it has so much JUNK inside it, you know? It's really bad, and it's not good for the soul either. So I've been trying to lay aside technology more...it's difficult. That Morning Pages idea SOUNDS SO BRILLIANT THOUGH. Wow. Like, not even kidding, this morning I was up for an hour before I ACTUALLY woke up just thinking on life. I should really start doing the Morning Pages idea.

    AND GO YOU WAFFLE QUEEN YOU GOT THIS. Powering off is so incredibly hard but I AM SO PROUD OF YOU. *hands you therapeutic waffles* This was such an amazing post, Abbie <3

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    1. ASDJFGHJKL THANK YOU SO MUCH AUTUMN. :') I'm so happy this post inspired you!! YES i can definitely relate to the feeling of having a head full of junk. It's not a good feeling for sure. Yes you should totally try doing Morning Pages!! I find it's really helpful. Also wow putting aside technology is definitely hard. SO PROUD OF YOU. *high fives and devours those therapeutic waffles* THANK YOU SO MUCH AUTUMN YOU DON'T KNOW HOW MUCH YOUR KIND WORDS MEAN TO ME. :"'''') *hugs u*

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  18. I LOVE THIS POST SO MUCH WOW. Like hello #relatable. I'm super hard on myself too, so I'm trying to find a balance between getting things done and being productive and not being so hard on myself all the time. I've actually been thinking of starting a Morning Journal, SO I THINK THIS IS GOING TO HAPPEN. It sounds super helpful. I'd actually never heard of the phrase, "be an observer, not a critic", BUT IT'S SUCH A GREAT THING. I need to adopt it. I probably should work on powering off sooner, too, BUT THAT'S PROBABLY NOT GOING TO HAPPEN ANYTIME SOON AHAHAHA. Help. Send waffles. XD

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  19. "I am also the Perfectionist™ and the Overcommiter™ and the Person Who Thinks She Can Do Literally Everything™ – but I CAN’T AND I AM DELUSIONAL. So how do I stop??"

    *raises hand because I agree so very much*

    As you well know, Abbie, we have uncannily similar work drives and perfectionist tenancies. WORK HARDER, FASTER, BETTER, SMARTER. Just be better [insert name]. You can do this.

    Spoiler alert: we can't.

    What you said about observing instead of always critiquing interested me. I'm not sure it's exactly how I want to treat the problem of perfectionism, because I think that evaluation and improvement are good things, and critiques are necessary for those things. I don't want to stay where I am now, and that's a good thing for me.

    At the same time, you spoke truth that we need to be kind to ourselves. We need to stop reaching for the wrong goal of perfection. Jesus reached that goal for us because we are epically too short to reach it ourselves.

    I wish you the best of luck and more than that, prayers, as you journey on towards His joy and peace! Expect an email soon!

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  20. Yes to this advice! The Morning Journal is actually pretty deep, not going to lie, I love scribbling my thoughts down. I recently (cough last week cough) abandoned my elaborate productivity planning schemes and goal setting obsessions and lists that sync on desktop/app/human skin and stripping down to the essentials of productivity tips has really helped me. I think the problem for me with being hard on myself is that I tried to make it easier for myself through organising my time. By easier for myself I mean that I wanted to designate time for my activities so that a) I'd get things done through focusing on them and b) whatever free snippets of time I'd have I'd be able to use to focus on creativity. However, this did not work out.

    Scheduling did help me get things done through focusing on them, but the free snippets of time I had left me clueless. I had no idea what to do, and I wasn't at all thinking creatively. It's easy to create space for yourself I found out (okay fine, it was very hard adjusting to a routine that left me overwhelmed most days) but it's harder to teach yourself how to think.

    So now I try to prompt my mind to make decisions in the now instead of relying on a schedule to think and prioritise for me. It leaves me with a lot of time to do with as I please - and thinking creatively (and getting more things done than through a schedule) has been going very well.
    (Your Waffling Majesty I think that spiel up there is going to give you a run for your money).

    BUT! I find clocking off at six o'clock in the evening revolutionary!! I can't imagine doing the same myself - HOW DO YOU COPE?!

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  21. Love this Abbie!!! Thank you for sharing it!! :-) ~Skylar

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kind words are like raindrops on the desert. they make me bloom with happiness, as absolutely cliche and cheesy as that sounds. even if it's just a simple alt+3 i will heart you for it. so, go ahead! MAKE MY DAY. literally.