And that, my friend, silences the inner critic!
As if …
Crit does not take directions well, not even with a ‘Please, I am begging you’ tacked on the end.
Hiding under the doona doesn’t work either. It’s wormed its way into your head and, ergo, into your bed.
Blocking your ears? Nooo … that godawful noise isn’t out there. Stressing: INNER critic.
All writers have to contend with one, but writers don’t have the monopoly.
This bitchy, nit-picking predator of the psyche isn’t picky and choosy. It beats up on everyone.
For me, reasoning with it, ignoring it, overlaying its blah-blahs with positivity did rien, ništa, niets, semmi, gornisht, nada, which mean ‘nothing’ in French, Croatian, Dutch, Hungarian, Yiddish, and Spanish, respectively. The inner critic is fluent in every single language.
So. Grasping at straws, I turned to the advice du jour—the gurus’ ‘how-to’s’.
‘Don’t wait for it to blindside you,’ they said. ‘Face it. Give it a name.’
Tried that, but it didn’t warm to ‘Hey, Arsehole’. What can one say? Years of being bedevilled leaves one resentful, no? Anyway, consulting the self-appointed experts provoked the critic. Of course, it did: ‘See, you can’t even figure it out for yourself!’
Then, one fine-but-tearful day I heard the wise part of me. It whispered, ‘Let the critic have its say.’
You’re kidding, right?
‘Letting it have its say is not the same as letting it get its own way,’ said Ms Inner Wise.
Why the Critic Will Never Shut Up. Ever.
I took my sage’s advice because I got that this critic is an innate aspect of the psyche (as much as the sage is).
The critic was not constructed by disapproving parents, or by a society that promotes unrealistic standards of perfection. It was, and is, only fed by said parents and society.
I got that the same social forces that feed it also promote ways to obliterate it. But I’ve learned that by giving the critic a voice, it no longer needs to have authority over my psyche and life.
Speak Up … Then SHUUUT UUUUUUUP!
A goddamn challenging approach, with the crit no less snarky. Through giving it permission to speak, though, I discovered it serves a purpose:
- When it assumes the guise of the charmer (one of its many) and tells me how fab, fantastic, phenomenal I am, it cuts me down the second I soak up the pseudo praise. Not a bad thing. Keeps me humble.
- Its jibes can be demoralising. Not a bad thing. Lapsing into moralism stops me from seeing that some of what I’ve claimed as my straitjacketed values and attitudes aren’t mine at all.
- Its relentless trash talk can drive me to frozen despair. Not a bad thing. At the darkest point, I uncover hope in the hopelessness, which inspires me to continue free-falling through the bullshit and towards realness.
And so, because this beast is ingrown (albeit much like an ingrown toenail), and because I’m working at accepting all of me (and ‘no one’ likes to be left out), I have formed an unholy alliance with it.
Where it used to be at its very best–worst when I was being creative, when I was being me, letting it slag off intermittently means it no longer needs to block the flow to get my attention, and it doesn’t need to attack anywhere near as often.
How do you manage yours?