I admit it. There are voices in my head.
Well, just one voice really, but that’s plenty.
Here’s what the voice said this morning when I sat down to write:
- Well, how nice of you to finally show up.
- I don’t know why you think anyone’s interested in what you have to say anyway.
- Were you planning to write something or just stare at the screen all morning?
- Maybe you should get some more coffee. While you’re at, why not brew some extra for those readers who’ll be nodding off over that post?
- This isn’t coming together at all. Let’s scrap this drivel and start over.
- Say, why don’t you just slip on over to facebook awhile since you’re not getting anything done here?
- Oh for the love of God. It’s just a blog post. Get a move on!
- How about a danish? Chocolate donut maybe?
- You can’t be serious. You’re going to publish THAT?
- Maybe you’re just not cut out for this blogging thing . . .
Quite the pep talk, isn’t it?
As twisted as it sounds, I’m actually glad my inner critic dropped by this morning. And not just because I gave into that chocolate donut suggestion either. No, listening to the nagging voice of my critic got me thinking about how often we let these critics stomp the breath out of our dreams with their verbal attacks.
You’re not good enough.
Who do you think you are?
Given its unseemly behavior, it’s no small wonder then that most people would rather avoid the inner critic than make friends with it. I understand that and admit to polishing my own evasive maneuvers to the point of near perfection.
Here are my two favorite evasion tactics:
- Start early. My inner critic isn’t a morning person. That makes two of us, but the earlier I start writing, the less likely it is I’ll be sharing office space with my critic.
- Focus. When I set an online timer for 20-25 minutes and focus like a laser beam on the piece I’m writing, my inner critic doesn’t show up. Or, maybe she does and I’m too into the flow of writing to notice.
Most of the time, those two things keep my critic out of my hair. Sometimes though, like this morning, she slips through a crack in the door when I’m not looking. Now, before you start telling me I should just kick her out or maybe tie her in a chair and shout a few positive affirmations in her ear, let me assure you, I’ve tried those things without success.
No, once my critic is in residence, things go a whole lot better if I just act friendly and try to get along.
Here’s what works for me:
- Let her talk. We all want to be heard, and my inner critic is no exception. I used to try to shut her up, lock her out, or argue when she talked, but this only ended up making her madder and meaner. These days, I just keep writing and let her yak until she runs out of steam.
- Show compassion. Even though her manners make me want to flip her off, deep down I know my inner critic is just plain scared. She’s been hurt in the past and wants to protect me from icky stuff like rejection, ridicule, and financial ruin. Knowing her core motivation makes it far easier to be in her company.
- Heed the message. Much as I hate to admit it, my inner critic is right sometimes. Maybe I really have been procrastinating on writing posts (I have!), or perhaps, as was the case this morning, I’d be better off scrapping one post and running with another idea entirely. While it’s true I have to sift through a stinky heap of garbage to find a rare nugget of truth, I’m truly grateful for the times she’s set me straight.
While I can’t go so far as to say I love my inner critic, I’m feeling okay about where things stand with us right now. She does her thing, I do mine, and I can live with that.
Your turn: When does your inner critic show up and how do you deal with it?
If you enjoyed this article, you might also like How to Handle a Dream Snatcher.
Image by Hendrick’s Photo