You Are Doing It All Wrong


“You are doing it all wrong.”

I go through distinct phases of my week/day/life when I can clearly hear myself telling this to myself.

It might not matter exactly what I am doing — anything really from cleaning the house to baking a chicken — but the message is clear: you are doing it wrong.

Do you hear it sometimes too?

I’ve gone through all sorts of phases in my relationship with my “inner critic” (as Julia Cameron calls her). By now, though, I am 42 and I know myself pretty well. I don’t even refer to “her” in the third person anymore. I know exactly what is going on.

I just wish I knew why.

What sets it off? What’s the reason that I go for days/weeks at a time without tripping over these self-flaggelating scripts, then, suddenly I hear it.

Why today? Is it just the weather? Because I didn’t sleep too well? Something I ate?


I pulled at the crab grass in the backyard today, even getting at some of it from the root. I spent at least 15 minutes picking at the weeds before I stopped and examined the bare dirt.

I thought: I wonder if the grass can even get up the momentum to fill in this space before the crabgrass takes over again.

I sighed and tossed the weed back on the ground.

White pine arms droop down,
Catch summer dew, unfazed by
Deciduous grace.

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Elizabeth Howard

Elizabeth writes literary non-fiction, haiku, cultural rants, and Demand Poetry in order to forward the cause of beautiful writing. She teaches and speaks about the rhetorical impact of beautiful writing. A recent transplant to Connecticut, she calls London, Kansas City, and Iowa home. 

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  1 comment for “You Are Doing It All Wrong

  1. Lisa
    July 30, 2012 at 1:08 am

    You’re doing it your way. Tell the voice to shut up and leave you alone! Unless the result is death or unintended fire, you’re doing it right- You’re doing something. (I find Breathe-Right Strips to be passive aggressive, too)

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