Yesterday, in grand comic-book style, I revealed a hidden enemy that was keeping me from my work. Its name is the Inner Critic. I’ve mentioned before (http://robertf71.blogspot.com/2014/04/im-not-going-to-write-blog.html) that I have three major enemies, Fear, Rage and the Inner Critic. So far, the Inner Critic has been the hardest to control. I’ve only found one way to fight it, but I haven’t beaten it completely. Taking a journalistic approach, Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How, I will share my thoughts on one of my greatest adversaries.
Who is the Inner Critic? It’s me. Yes, I can say it’s the voices of the past, family members, friends, teachers, religious authorities, employers, or whoever else I want to blame, but, really, it’s me. It’s the part of me that listens and believes all the criticism of the past. It’s the part of me that believes the worst about myself. Perhaps I heard an extraordinary amount of criticism throughout my life, or perhaps I created situations and relationships that perpetuated that criticism. Perhaps I didn’t create them; I just allowed them. Whatever the case may be, I allowed so much criticism into my life that it became a voice I could not turn off…almost ever.
Who is the Inner Critic? For many years, it has been my constant companion. And why is this so bad? It’s bad because of what it says to me. The good news is that it only has one message. The bad news is that it repeats that message constantly.
What does the Inner Critic say? It says one thing and one thing only, but it never stops saying it. It says, “You’re wrong.”
That’s it. That’s all it says. But it says it every chance it gets.
If I’m writing, it says I should be reading. Or it tells me my writing is no good. It tells me I should drive faster or slower. If I wake up early to write, it tells me I need more rest. If I get more rest, it tells me I should be writing. If I watch a movie, it says I should be working, or, at the very least, pick a different movie, for God’s sake. No matter what I do, I’m wrong.
Happily this voice is quieter when I’m writing or doing something in my Purpose, but not always.
Where does it come from? It comes from my past, as I’ve said. It also comes from a media that tells us how we should look, dress and behave. It comes from people who haven’t tamed their own demons and so subject us to them. It comes from all around us, but mostly it comes from within. And that’s why it’s dangerous, because it doesn’t always occur to us that we don’t have to believe our thoughts. Our thoughts are just thoughts. They don’t have to be believed or acted upon. The Inner Critic loves it when I believe thoughts of low self-worth.
When does it come? Always. Every chance they get. When I do my work, but more so, when I don’t.
Why does it come? It comes because it’s my enemy and it wants to keep me from doing my work.
How do I get rid of it? First, I should recognize that I may not be able to. It may be a lifelong companion. So all I can do is acknowledge it and keep working. It’s sometimes like a child that needs constant attention. But constant attention to the Inner Critic is deadly. Instead, I acknowledge it and keep working. That’s the only way to beat it. In his book This Is It, Alan Watts says to accept all of ourselves, even the parts we don’t like. I don’t like my Inner Critic, so I’m not going to spend too much time with it. It can stay if it wants, but I’m going to keep working.
There may be exercises I can do, like meditation or tapping. I can do as a friend suggested and write a nightly list of my virtues or good acts for the day. I can do The Work around my criticisms. Most of all though, I think the best ways to deal with it are to acknowledge it and keep working.
It’s also helpful to remember the Inner Critic is a liar. Truth, even when it’s meant to correct, usually feels good. The claims of the Inner Critic never feel good. They just feel defeating. So I acknowledge and I work. I Get Started and I Keep Going…no matter what my Inner Critic says.