The Marvelous Crumb

Follow Joy. Find Belonging.

Balancing Joy and the Inner Critic

My friends, yesterday I posted my first FaceBook Live video. The topic was joy. Above is a truncated version where I summarize three steps I use to touch into my own internal joy, which I believe is inexhaustible, unconditioned and a resource for dealing with the many challenges we face in our world and personal lives.

It’s a topic near and dear to my heart — a message I share with delight and conviction with all those who know me, and yet, this morning, I’m filled with the voice of my inner critic.

Why were you so serious?
You should have danced!
You should have worn glitter!
It was way too long!
Nobody experienced any joy watching THAT!

You get the idea. It’s been brutal.

Contrary to what those who know me may believe (due to my twirling ways and seeming exuberance to be in the limelight),  putting myself out there is always terrifying. I think I should have done it differently (almost) every time.  My critic has a lot of advice.

Why am I sharing this?   We all have an inner critic. And any time we offer something from the heart,  expose ourselves and are vulnerable, behind that is always a wealth of internal feedback to keep us from ever. doing. that. again. The critic, in their own way, is trying to protect us from getting hurt. Mine does a very thorough job.

This brings me to the topic of joy. Reconnecting with internal joy is the best way to balance the voice of the inner critic. Notice I did not say banish the voice of the inner critic? When I push her away, put her in a corner, call for a timeout, she only comes back louder and stronger. Instead, I notice what she says (my inner critic is a bossy, know-it-all teenager) and then I balance it by feeding my joy. So, this morning in a cloud of regret, I felt my beating heart and asked myself what I needed.

I waited, noticing the nit-pickings running through my head like ticker tape, and then behind those I heard:  this is a day to take your time, wear something soft, dance, cook something delicious and be with friends.

For me, nourishing my joy often involves movement, connection with others, food, glitter and soft things. For you, it likely looks totally different. I have a friend who loves crossword puzzles. A crossword puzzle and a beer is bliss for her. It could also be pulling weeds, taking a hot shower, saying no to an invite, reading a magazine from cover to cover, etc.

But, here’s the thing, reconnecting with inner joy is not necessarily about happiness or making ourselves become happy. It’s about supporting ourselves whatever our emotional state with resources that help us stay open, inquisitive and connected to ourselves and our world. It’s especially helpful for not shutting down when things do not go the way we want them to go.

[Prioritize your joy this weekend! I’m offering a workshop!] 

This morning I danced to three indulgent songs from my Movement Meditation Spotify playlist letting my body move how it wanted. When I finished, I didn’t feel happy, but I did feel a sense of o.k. Though the nit-picking voice was still there she was accompanied by someone wiser. It said:

  • The only person who expects you to be perfect is you
  • You don’t have to be anything other than who you are
  • Life is a journey of offering, re-calibrating and offering again
  • You are not alone — even when it all feels pretty lonely
  • Don’t be afraid to nurture yourself even in the midst of standing on the stage
  • You are brave and strong

All of this is also true for you.

Let it sink in.



  1. Marc Scheiner

    June 2, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    Kelsey – Love this! Thanks for being brave and sharing….for all of our benefit. – Marc

    • Yes, all so true, and as I get older I have to laugh (sadly) because, as I work with my piano students dealing with recitals, I realize that unless we practice performing by getting out there and doing it, and practice making mistakes and how to handle them, we are never going to get good at it! If the inner critic keeps us from trying — as it has done to me so often in my life — we will fail in the long run. It’s only by going out there and trying, and making mistakes, and trying again, that we can ever fulfill the needs of the inner critic!

      • Kelsey

        June 5, 2017 at 12:17 pm

        Thank you Pwll for this reminder to keep showing up! Your words remind me of this quote from Brene Brown: “We need people to be braver, and we need to create a culture that allows for bravery.”

    • Kelsey

      June 5, 2017 at 12:16 pm

      THank you Marc!

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