I am in a virtual writer’s retreat for the next couple of weeks. I’m committing to continuing writing but I have to find a way to silence the negative voice in my head. My Inner Critic doesn’t just dampen my spirit in writing, though. Mine is male, and I really don’t like him. He’s relentless in his push to drive me off the edge. In some ways it may seem he’s trying to make me perfect but that’s not the case. Annihilation of my spirit is his goal, and it’s weird because he would cease to exist if I was gone. He’s not even helping himself.
In the exercises we’ve been doing, I’ve been exploring what I’m grateful for about myself and what strengths and gifts I have. This morning we wrote a Thank You card to ourselves for who we are. It occurred to me while I was writing that the Inner Critic’s voice is so LOUD. There are many positive qualities I believe I have, but that voice is much softer and much less persistent in getting my attention. Much like the bully at work, the Inner Critic is a lot louder than the many other supportive coworkers I have. They are there. They just don’t necessarily push their agenda in meetings or go out of their way to make their feelings known.
I could tell myself to turn down the volume and that might work. But these exercises are showing me that it’s not just the volume that’s the issue. It’s the effort to ask what these other voices think AND really listen to them. Where am I succeeding? What do you see that’s good in me? Where have I supported you? What’s my superpower? Where do I need to work to be more fully myself? In asking the questions and making the space for these less persistent voices to express themselves, the Inner Critic’s LOUDNESS fades into the background.
When I wrote my card this morning I thanked myself for having the courage to change my life’s circumstances when my voice wasn’t being heard or supported. I was most appreciative for the efforts I took to heal and strengthen my spirit during periods of brokenness. This was not easy work nor was it convenient at the time, but I did it. I am grateful that I educated myself and dedicated myself to having a thriving career so that I could be the maestro of my life. I am also grateful that I’ve spent a great deal of effort in building a community that supports and loves me even without the traditional path of marriage and parenthood. I realized that the things that I’m most appreciative of in myself are directly at odds with my Inner Critic’s goal of keeping me mired in societal norms and my failure or lack of desire to follow them.
There was a physical shift in my body when I read this thank you note back to me. Those quiet voices had the floor, and my body resonated with them. I actually feel a kick of energy much like the jolt of caffeine in a morning espresso. After time with my Inner Critic I never feel energized. My body doesn’t soften. I just feel helpless and am not sure what to do next. But this morning I feel like jumping up to do my yoga practice and even felt like posting a quick blog.
How LOUD is your Inner Critic? What can you do to bring out those quieter voices that are supportive of you? How would that change your day?