It’s pretty amazing the life lesson reminders you can receive while you’re baking! I was making cupcakes—chocolate ones with orange buttercream. They were for a birthday celebration at my job and I needed to get them done that morning before I left for work. I had baked the cupcakes the night before and they looked and smelled yummy and chocolatey. The buttercream smelled divine after adding a little orange oil. There was one problem, when I went to actually put the two together and frost the cupcakes, the tops of the cupcakes were coming off and there was a lot of crumbs in the frosting. I put the cupcakes in the freezer for a while and then did a crumb coat which helped some but still I could see the brown crumbs in my beautiful orange frosting. In the inner critic realm of my mind I could see my co-workers and new friends disapproving looks, and could imagine them thinking “Hmm…guess she doesn’t know how to bake as well as we thought.” Just as I was ready to toss the batch because of all the “judging” happening, that little inner voice I have come to know as the Holy Ghost said very quietly “That’s not them, that’s you.”
It was me who was looking at the cupcakes critically and it was me who was projecting that reaction onto my friends. It seems so simple and yet I have done this so many times! That inner critic is tricky. From crumbs in the frosting, to the state of cleanliness in our homes, to how we look, the inner critic can trick us into the thinking that our own inner judgmental thoughts are the judgmental thoughts of others. When in reality, I think people are far less critical than we give them credit for. Some of the biggest revelations of my life were finding out that people I perceived as being judgmental and critical of me were actually dealing with their own inner critic battles. I am not saying that there is not a problem in the world with judging people unfairly. What I am saying is that speaking for my own life, there have been so many times when I have thought people unkind because of the critical thoughts that were going on in my own head. In that moment, the only one who was making unfair judgments was me, towards myself and towards the strangers, friends, and family who I thought were looking down on me. I don’t say that to put myself down. I say it because it’s incredibly liberating. It is incredibly liberating to know that you have a choice. It is like the old Indian legend told by an Indian warrior to his grandson, that there are two wolves inside all of us, fighting for dominance. “Which one will win?” asked the grandson. “Whichever one I feed,” came the wise reply. The inner critic is powerful but we still always have a choice whether we will feed it. We can choose not to listen.
And so I finished my cupcakes. I learned a few things about how to avoid getting crumbs in your frosting for the next time. I took the cupcakes to work and sang happy birthday to my co-worker and felt glad about this gift of a talent I have in the kitchen and how it can make people happy. The inner critic still comes, bringing with it fear of what other people are thinking about me. And yet, each time it gets a little easier to hear that little reminder, “That’s not them, that’s you.” I remember that I have a choice. I can choose not to listen. I can remember that we are all just trying to do our best, cupcake crumbs and all.