Today, I took a picture of my worst critic.


Today, I took a picture of my worst critic.

Though it’s fun to rail on haters, the truth is, they have nothing on the critic I see in the mirror each morning.

Each day, he lobs insults when I least expect it.

He’s convinced what I write is not good enough to be shared.

He’s pretty sure other people have already done what I am trying to do.

He’s positive they are all going to laugh at me.

He doubts. He belittles. He cuts me at the knees.

And he’s good at it, because he’s got an entire 38 year history to pull from. He can go deep in the archives of my life and pull out a mistake I made in college as evidence that I will fail tomorrow. He knows my secret hopes and my unspoken dreams and will leave no stone unturned when it comes stirring up anxiety.

You might have a critic like that too. You might have heard the same voice of fear from inside when what you needed most was bravery.

The funny thing is, if someone talked to you like you talk to you, you’d never get coffee with that person.

You’d never spend time with them for their rhetoric would be too mean. You’d call them out on their nonsense.

But when the fear is in our own voice, we tend to listen.

Not anymore.

Today I took a picture of my worst critic. I caught him when he least expected it. I did it to let him know “I see you! I know what you’re about! I know that you’re not angry, you’re just afraid. I forgive you, but I can’t listen any longer. The world is too bright, too fun, too unexplored to worry about the mirror.”

Maybe you need to have the same conversation with your mirror today.

I dare you to take a photo of your worst critic.

Hashtag it with #MyWorstCritic and share it for all the world to see. Fear hates the light of day. Critics can’t stand community.

They had their run, but life is waiting.

It’s time to stop listening.

About Author

Jon Acuff
Jon Acuff


  1. It’s so easy to get caught up in the idea that you are always giving yourself constructive criticism. But many times it just isn’t the case. Thanks for the article, Jon. Can’t wait to read the new book!

  2. Oh goodness. Just the other day I was wondering about this. Why is it that, even though people point to me at the home school field trips and say, “you need to talk to her”, even though I have had people ask if they can watch what I do for a day, even though I have been doing this successfully for a decade,

    why am I still afraid to call myself a homeschooling expert? Good question.

  3. Sheryl Buckner

    My sentiments EXACTLY! Today I took a picture of my worst critic. I caught him when he least expected it. I did it to let him know “I see you! I know what you’re about! I know that you’re not angry, you’re just afraid. I forgive you, but I can’t listen any longer. The world is too bright, too fun, too unexplored to worry about the mirror.” I am going to do this when I get home and post it on my wall space above my desk. Thank you for sharing this.

  4. Funny how we rely on others for our “self” worth. Being so hard on yourself, feeling like you’re not good enough, or that you will fail creates the need to find acceptance from the people we interact with. And then we sometimes don’t believe them. Life is too short to beat yourself up. It’s okay to punch fear in the face, but maybe not this time…

    • David –
      This is what we talked about yesterday – longing for and living for the approval of yourself and others is foolish. God’s purposes and calling in our life is what we live for. Our greatest achievement is to bring Him glory in ALL things. We can’t do that when we’re beating ourselves up.

      As for my worst critic. Honestly, it’s my wife. It’s ok, she’s my greatest supporter too. I don’t think I’ll get away with photo bombing her, though.

      • Thanks for being such an encouraging force! Yes, I would not throw up the pic of your wife. It could turn into a guest confession on Nick Pavlidis’, “A Terrible Husband!”

  5. Jim Rudkin

    I just had this very conversation with my wife not 10 seconds before opening this email. Yesterday, in 2 separate posts on a message board, I had spent hours writing these posts trying to make a very detailed point regarding a throw away comment given by another poster. I was trying to bring rational debate into somewhat superficial, emotion driven post. I had just given my wife each of these excuses, almost verbatim.

  6. Man, I hear you. As confident as I am in my message I often wonder why anyone would listen to me… particularly since I brand myself as the “terrible husband.”

  7. Powerful…this one is staying in my in box and being shared with others.

  8. Jon, thank you for this post. You hit all kinds of buttons with me this morning with this post. You actually made it into my journal this morning, for not the first time: “…Jon’s words have a way of penetrating all the negative things my self has to say about myself that gives me a measure of courage, which springs into hope, which takes flight in joy.”
    I also had a revelation about the lies I beat myself up with, so thank you Jon for being awesome, and I am so glad you are silencing your inner critic.

  9. Jon – Thanks for being real with your audience. For a new writer like me, it is extremely helpful to hear stories like this from people like you. Thanks for showing me the way.

  10. Great post Jon! I am my worst critic as well. Thanks for all the inspiration.

  11. Jon great post, we all strive to meet expectations of others especially the one that stares blankly back at us with disapproval. Getting out of my own head is sometimes my biggest challenge.

  12. Mine is such a loud-mouth! I may need to read him this post daily for a few months to run him off! Thanks…

  13. Good post Jon.

    You are not alone, because I can safely say I’m my own worst critic as well. I second guess myself all the time when shooting photos, making a blog post, etc. etc. I spend more time going back and thinking “what am I thinking writing something like that?” Then I change it and change it because I don’t want to be embarrassed.

    I need to spend more time going with my gut instinct and not worrying about what everyone else thinks.

    Thanks for the insite as always!

    Brant Thompson

  14. Wowza. I’ve been needing this *all week*. Actually, scratch that – I’ve needed it the majority of my *life*. Thanks, Jon.

  15. Love that Jon… It is so true. I feel like I’m in a confident swing right now… but so often it is me second guessing not someone else 🙂

  16. Fantastic Post Jon! Thank you for the encouragement to banish the negativity!

  17. What I am finding more and more is that when I quiet myself the most is when the breakthrough happens. The universe will work in our favor towards what we choose to focus on. That voice just ignores the universe so we should ignore the voice. As always, thanks Jon.

  18. Amen Jon. Sometimes I want to beat my worst critic up!

  19. Dan

    I often struggle with the critic in my head. I love that you’re helping us all call her/him out! Thanks Jon.

  20. Your biggest critic is your phone?

    This explains a lot.

    Seriously. Good point.

  21. Can you read my mind brother? Oh my goodness. I totes agree! GREAT post!!!! Thanks for inspiring today. Don’t listen to him. And keep listening to HIM. 🙂

  22. Yes, I definitely feel you Jon! Really resonated with what you said. Beat the self critic!

  23. I love this!! It’s time to stop listening!! Thanks for posting this. Already shared my #myworstcritic on IG.

  24. The greatest fear I have is myself…

  25. Nancy

    Don’t discount Satan in those negative thoughts too that swirl around in our heads. He’s the father of lies, and wants us to fear and think that we’re no good at what we do so we’ll be ineffective for God.

  26. Great post…
    The times when I am most willing to believe self criticism follow immediately the times when I’ve been most willing to believe self-praise

  27. Tim

    I actually find that sometimes I’m my own best company, and I am almost always my own best audience, And when it comes to jokes, I crack myself up all the time. I can also be hard on myself at times but not as often as I root for myself.

    Weird, I know, but what can I do? It’s who I am.

  28. wow. Yeah! Didn’t get a chance to do the picture, but this is so true – and I actually talk about it openly all. the. time. Both from the stage and in one-on-one conversations.

    God started leading me down this path a while ago, and shortly thereafter I read your book and joined in the experiment, and it has only made me bolder in shining the light on fear while embracing community. Thank you, Jon.

  29. Paul

    Just glad you had clothes on.

  30. Justin

    Profound statement… but if your biggest critic says anything about that shirt… slap him… thats a nice shirt.