“You’ll never publish a book!”
“Your book idea isn’t anything good.”
“Getting published is too hard. You’ll be rejected.”
“You’re too old to do this.”
That’s the voice of an Inner Critic. Most specifically, mine.
Are you acquainted with the Inner Critic? It’s that niggling little voice in your head that brings discouragement, disappointment and defeat every chance it gets.
There isn’t a woman I know that hasn’t done some hard time with the Inner Critic. Even the most beautiful, accomplished, intelligent out there battle against negative thoughts that threaten to undermine their successes and their aspirations. And while it’s not my intent with this post to analyze where that Voice comes from or who it sounds like (Moms already get blamed for more than their fair share), I do know a few things about it:
Inner Critics don’t fight fair! They practice Guerrilla Warfare, pouncing on us when we least expect it, and at our most vulnerable, like when we’re starting a new project, or trying to form healthy habits. Inner Critics are Thought Terrorists! What they’re really after is sabotaging our success.
Inner Critics try to convince us that we’ll never be any good, in spite of a mountain of evidence to the contrary. Ever just complete a really great piece of writing, and the rave reviews are coming in, and you think to yourself, “Oh, they’re just being nice to me. I’m not that great.” ? Not only is negative self talk illogical, it shows no mercy. Its primary objective is to create feelings of shame and guilt, so they attack our soft underbelly: who we are. Attacking what we do is secondary.
Inner Critics prey upon our vulnerabilities. They know all about those sensitive areas we try to keep hidden from the rest of the world (and, at times, ourselves): Insecurities about our skills. Embarrassment over our weight or age. Fear concerning our lack of experience. And the Mother of all Weak Spots :
Our past. The Inner Critic is the Queen of Mean and she has a very long memory. Remember those half-written novels on your hard drive? She’ll bring them up. How about that scathing critique you received on one of your novellas? Uh huh, she’s got it. Got a rejection letter or two in your file? She’ll throw THAT crap up in your face like so much napalm, and is relentless in attempting to use our real or imagined “failures” to kill off our hopes and dreams.
So what can we do to protect ourselves from being bombarded by the Inner Critic?
H.A.L.T the assault:
HONOR YOUR JOURNEY. One of the best things we can do for ourselves is to stop feeding the beast inside by rehearsing the past. Forgive yourself for any mistakes and missteps you’ve had. EVERYONE falls short of the mark at some point. We all screw up royally at times. AND, we are also BRILLIANT and extraordinary!! Don’t compare yourself to others. Everything – the good, the bad, and the fugly, make you the fabulous person you are today. The past doesn’t exist anymore, so why carry yesterday’s trash into today’s fresh field of potential?
ACCEPT THE INNER CRITIC. Granted, some people appear to be free of the torments of an inner dialogue that is less than supportive and kind. But the majority of us have to deal with this thing. Trying to ignore it, hoping it’ll go away on its own, is a recipe for disaster. Remember, whatever we don’t acknowledge about ourselves, we end up projecting onto other.
If you do not tell the truth about yourself
you cannot tell it about other people.
~ Virginia Woolf ~
So embrace your Inner Critic. Invite her to lunch, and acknowledge her existence. Accepting What Is, gives us the space and courage to change. Denial is a dead end street.
LET IT GO. No, seriously! Just let the thought go right on through! We are not our thoughts. Our thoughts are as birds flying across the sky of our awareness. Sure, it may stop momentarily overhead, but we don’t have to allow it to build a nest in our hair. When the thought, “I’m a terrible writer” flies in, shoo it away! If you latch onto it, and then think about it over and over and over again, it will hunker down and embed itself in your head. Show it the door as soon as it appears. It takes some practice, but practice makes…well, you know. And finally:
TALK TO YOURSELF. No, not in that “Crazy Aunt Martha” sort of way. Practice affirmations. Say nice, uplifting things about yourself and about where you want to be in life. Put little Post-it Notes around that say things like “I know with time and effort I can accomplish my goals” or “I am a creative writer who enjoys great success” or my personal favorite, “Janece Herrington, NY Times Best Selling Author!”
Nothing will shut up the Queen of Mean faster than a well-rehearsed Love Fest. It’s like a force field of positive energy surrounding us. One fun little trick I use is to write on the bathroom mirror in red lipstick! How many times a day do you look in the mirror? Right? It’s actually a terrific place to remind myself of my worth and potential – right there where I can look myself in the eye and sweet talk the Inner
Bitch Critic into submission.
The Inner Critic in our heads can be silenced with a little practice and some heavy artillery. We can HALT THE ASSAULT, and turn the Queen of Mean into our very own Fairy Godmother. Hers can be the Voice that motivates us to do our best quality work, to keep pushing forward, and to achieve our goals.
So how about it? Do YOU have an Inner Critic in your head that need to be silenced?
About the Author (Author Profile)
Janece Herrington is a native Southern Californian who grew up addicted to reading, listening to the Beach Boys, and playing “journalist on the street” in the beautiful port town of South Shores.
Mother of two,and grandmother to one, Janece has a fulfilling life as an “empty nester” with her husband, Larry, and works full-time as the Marketing Manager for a national property management company. She’s been blogging since 2005, and considers creative writing her ‘real job’. Her blog is www.TheWildPomegranate.com
A featured contributor on SheWrites.com and WomenWriters, Women Books, she’s also published several articles on Green Home building and the upcoming Baby Boomer Retirees. Janece is currently working on her first novel.
Janece’s twitter handle is @JHerrington_CA
Sites That Link to this Post
- What I Learned On My Writer’s Vacation | writerwithadayjob | March 27, 2012
- Abracadabra! | THE WILD POMEGRANATE | November 4, 2011