What Do You Do When Your Own Worst Critic is You?

You are not a puppet. Or are you?

Who remembers the old Pinocchio cartoon with Jiminy Cricket? That famous wise, leg-rubbing insect who whispered words of encouragement into a wooden puppet’s ear about becoming a boy. “Let your…” you know the line. I can’t say more or the Disney police will likely make me take this down. Anyway, guess what? You are not a puppet. And yet, how often have you felt like an invisible marionette master is “pulling your strings?” What if you feel like you are both the puppet and the puppeteer? How messed up is that?!

Wait? What? You ask defensively. First, you say I’m not a puppet now you are insulting me? I outta…

Hold on a sec. It’s a valid question. Because if you are like me, you too suffer from Imposter Syndrome. That uneasy, debilitating feeling that we aren’t good enough, or worse, that we don’t want to stand out or don’t believe we are worthy of the success we have achieved, so we do something stupid to sabotage it, like cut our own strings or say, I can’t. 

Admit it. There are areas of your life where you still don’t feel like you measure up. Look at your car and your neighbor’s car, your checkbook, and what you imagine someone else to be. It doesn’t take much to dig ourselves into a Hagen-Daz-eating, binge-watching Netflix pit of despair, especially when we keep believing our own BS about our self-worth.

Our self-deprecating thoughts are all lies, mostly.

All of us have something we want to be, do, or have, but unlike that insidious well-meaning insect we become more like a warty toad croaking in our own ear saying, 

Uh.. yeah, but you don’t understand, I don’t think I can. 

Yes, I do. And yes you can, if you actually try. Look at that wooden toy-turned boy and how his life changed. OK, not the whale part, but you know what I mean. If we want to believe something can be different, it can. But we must change the garbage we keep telling ourselves and learn to be a little kinder. We need to be more like Jiminy, whispering positive sweet somethings to ourselves. And we can’t just think about what we want, we actually, have to…wait for it…


Or, we stay on the toy store shelf waiting for something or someone you don’t know to magically change your life and give you the confidence so you can hop down and be somebody. Or you can be your own puppetmaster and stop believing the croaking toad. Puppet or Puppeteer—either way, it’s up to you.

And for those who hoped I was going to answer the opening question, sorry. That’s not my job. But I did combine my own school-of-hard-knocks experience with a handful of leaders around the nation, whose main goal is to inspire others by building them up. What transpired is a pretty awesome collaboration in the form of a damn good book that releases Monday. Learn more at shawnlangwell.com.

If I stirred things up a bit, good. That was my point as I experiment with this blogging stuff. You see, I don’t have the first clue about what will reach people and what won’t. Do any of us really have the secret sauce without a last name that starts with D and ends in g—Tim Denning? Who knows.

All I know is I’m a stubborn Irishman who will keep trying new things until something sticks. All I know is how to be me. And I refuse to get splinters in my ass from sitting on the toy shelf too long. 

And yes there will be days I, like you, wake up and feel like a complete imposter as in Invasion of the Body Snatchers—those pod-hatching, soul-sucking makes me want to fire up a flame thrower and fry those nasty blobs, but I’m doomed cause I quit smoking ten years ago and can’t find a lighter. But I will not be eaten by my fears or Body Snatchers. I will survive, or die trying.

Let’s face it we all have days like that. I do it at least twice a week. When they hit me, I drag my ass down to the kitchen, slam a cup of black coffee, and, as the sleep crumbles from my eyes and mind, decide that waking up is a good thing, especially considering the alternative. That is enough to change my mindset.

How about you? Tired of splinters yet? Then get off the bench and do something bold.