“You have nothing original — nothing important — to say.” “You’re no good at writing.” “Why is it so hard for you to compose a simple blog post? If that’s the case, how will you ever write a book?!?!?!”
These were only a few of the refrains whispering in my brain as I sat in front of my computer last evening staring at a blank screen. I had intended to write a blog. This was the sole remaining item on my “to-do” list before shutting down for the weekend. It should have been a simple enough task…but then my inner critic decided to hijack me.
If you know me, you know I can be pretty stubborn. So, as my inner critic babbled on, I became more determined to write. “I’ll show you!!!” I looked through a list of potential topics that I’d assembled, and none of them struck me as being something I felt compelled to write about. “See, even with prompts you have nothing to say.” Not one to give up easily, I started bantering topic ideas back and forth with my husband until I came upon one that caught my attention. Even then, the writing took effort and, when the draft was done, it just felt meh, like something was missing.
I gave it to my husband to read and his response was, “So what? I don’t get the message you’re trying to convey.” He knows the quality of my writing and knows that I appreciate that I can trust that I will get his candid feedback. His feedback was not meant to cut me down. Even knowing this, it still fueled the inner critic even more. “I told you so!” That’s when I realized I had allowed myself to get drawn into a sparring match with my inner critic and that seldom ends well.
As soon as I became aware that this was what was happening, I chose to disengage. I closed the computer and turned my attention to my husband. Let me be clear. I didn’t feel defeated or discouraged. I hadn’t accepted my inner critic’s barrage of criticism as valid. I simply decided that battling with myself was not the best use of my time and energy. I have found that when my inner critic’s voice begins to get under my skin, the best way for me to deal with it is to distance myself until I can see the situation more clearly.
Sure enough, when I woke up this morning I was not only able to recognize that all writers struggle with writing at times and was able to leverage the experience to write this blog.
How does your inner critic sabotage you? How have you tamed your inner critic?