I realize that title sounds like we’re leading into a “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me…” moment, but there is no worm eating going on over here. Bear with me because I think where we’re going is important.

IMG_4336Last week I had the serious good fortune to be in Italy. Now, there’s a lot to say about Italy, but what I want to say today was also prompted by a friend of mine who just decided, in spite of her vociferous inner demons, to buy and wear a bikini to her local pool. She was pretty freaked out and decided that her fear was her best indicator that this was exactly what she ought to do. She did it, took a picture, and posted it on Facebook.

I’m guessing that the bikini to one piece ratio at her local pool in the U.S. (East Coast if that makes a difference, which now that I’m thinking about it, it might) is VERY different from said ratio in Italy. In Italy, I was one of maybe 4 women on the beach in a one piece, and two of the other 3 were great grandmothers. The other, perhaps another American. I lay there in my one piece which seemed kind of sassy when I tried it on, and felt like a total prude. I saw every shape go by and all of them were playing, at the beach, in their bikinis. Bikinis of all description, covering varying (within a relatively small range) amounts of flesh. The rest of the flesh? Out there, sunning, swimming, building sand castles, applying sunscreen, napping. Perfectly normal.

I considered getting a bikini before our trip, having been to vacation spots with lots of Europeans before, knowing that socially there seemed to be a little more wiggle room (Har, Har) in this area, but when I shopped for 10 minutes that inner critic just wouldn’t have it. And then, lying there in my previously sassy one piece that had felt like a compromise to begin with, that inner critic picked up right where she left off. She and all her friends (who the marvelous Martha Beck refers to as The Furies) were sure that everyone on that beach had an opinion about the fact that I was wearing a one piece. They must think I’m so uptight. They must think I’ve got something I’m trying to hide. Surely they’re laughing at me. I succumbed for a short time. I heard them and allowed them to distract me from the marvelous time I was having. I stopped noticing all the shapes on the beach and just looked at the tiny ones, the catalog worthy ones, and felt uncomfortable. What a waste.

The truth is not one of those people on the beach cared. They didn’t care about what bathing suit I chose to wear. They didn’t care why I made that choice. They were just there vacationing, doing their own thing, minding their own business, having their own good fun in their own sassy swimsuits.

It reminded me of a story another friend told me about a speech she was giving. She had joined a public speaking group knowing that it would be scary and was trying to sort out how much to share in her first speech. Should she talk about her anxiety? Should she be honest about her struggles? What would they think of all of those revelations? Would people be put off by all of the transparency?  She gave that speech. She put it out there. Guess what she found out. Nobody cares. They talked about her speech, the way she delivered it, offered her feedback in the way that such groups do, but nobody seemed at all troubled by her revealing her true self. Nobody cared.

Nobody cares about these inner battles. Nobody cares if you feel inadequate. Nobody cares if your belly is a roadmap or if being in a room with 200 people makes you queasy. They’re doing their thing. They’re living their own lives, thinking their own thoughts, sorting out their own choices. You are tremendously important in the world, but the level of scrutiny others give you will never match the level of scrutiny your inner critic revels in. Nobody cares, love. Do what you want to do. When that inner critic pipes up, just tell her, “But darling, nobody cares. I know you’re trying to protect me, but I’m okay now, really.” And you know what? You are.



  1. The problem is that there are too many who “care” enough to make snarky comments. Now, “too many” may be 1 in a hundred, or a thousand; but just one snarky comment that agrees with the inner critics blocks the reality that no one else cares and the day is ruined.

    1. I have to confess that nobody has ever said anything to me that was worse than what my inner critic said. I DO know that ugly comments have much less impact when I don’t give my furies center stage. What I think of me takes precedence. What they think of me is really none of my business.

  2. Beautifully stated. Needless to say my weight for most of my life has been hard to live with. I try to ignor others stares and comments but at times I have let others ruin my day.

  3. I just listened to a Martha Beck show. It was good to hear someone else put her concepts, and words, into such an easy and real life example. Some of her stuff can be pretty heady, but the two examples you gave were perfect. The only person who cares is your inner critic. The only person who craves to be liked is that same inner critic. If we let her go, as much as each baby step will allow, more people will flock to us. We become more honest, true and alive human beings that crave to live a fun and full life! Please continue to help us walk forward into, and then out of the fear, shrinking the inner critic to nothing but a whisper. We will be protected by our instincts, which is what that critic is trying to be. Criticism is nothing but a fear response that society has taught us to listen to. Instinct is an awareness response that is ingrained in our DNA, our souls and our experiences.

    Oh, and when you see your sister, Lisa, please give her a bear hug from me. She is a friend who shared her Tae Kwon Do love and skills with me. Taught me how to spar, without too many bruises! Miss her and her family here in TN.

    Cathy Lowe

  4. This is great advice. I know some folks can be incredibly quick to share their opinions but I do agree, if you have silenced your own inner critics, their comments have so much less effect! Thank you for sharing this excellent post with us at the Hearth and Soul Hop.

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