Everything was fine until you showed up. That’s how you begin a story. Your story. Anyone’s story. The story of your life’s trials and tribulations which has brought you here today. Your story can be a wonderful motivator, but it can also hold you back and shackle your dreams.
That’s how I rewrote my Inner Critic—aka my mom. I told myself a new story about her and I stopped being victim to her.Took me five years, but I did it
My mom and haven’t seen each other in six years. She’s never met my kids. Why are we estranged? I got pregnant with my son Daniel 13 years ago and she felt betrayed, but the issues started for us in the womb and for her long before that. Whew! That’s a lot to handle. To process. My mother’s gone. But not gone. She was my YOU that showed up. My Inner Critic constantly telling me in my head I was fat, stupid, ridiculous, rude, naïve; I was selfish, self-centered—I couldn’t keep any friends. She told me some of things when we were together, but apart they were magnified. She became my muse for my early writings and my poetry.
What is your inner critic?
It’s an internal voice that nags, warns or shames us out of things we want to do. It’s a survival instinct against criticism and rejection designed to keep you in your comfort zone. It’s the adult to our creative child. It’s our fear of failure and of making a big mistake.
Five years ago I wrote an article in Raleigh’s News & Observer about letting go of her and my Inner Critic. (Here’s the essay) It felt good to be honest and reveal to the world what I just revealed to you about our estrangement and how she could be cruel to me and I could be cruel back—like yanking an office chair as she was trying to sit down in it. I didn’t care if she hurt her bad back or not.
I got hate mail from that article because I had said negative things about my mother. After I spiraled down because I knew after all the personal work I had done, I wasn’t healed. No, not yet. Why not? Because I kept telling the same story—I was wronged. She was the bad guy. And my Inner Critic kept flaring up because I was taking more risks with my work, getting my work published, but I noticed how hurt I’d be if I got criticisms or negative feedback from clients—really, really, crying, wanna stay in bed hurt. More risk, more criticism and I couldn’t deal.
This is how I did it to get over the Inner Critic.
- I gave it a face and a name—my mother. What does your Inner Critic look like? Give it a face. Is it your former French teacher, your mother, a demon with a long scarlet tail?
When she comes around I thank her and see her now as a gift, not as a demon. A way to make myself better. She is an opportunity to see something new about myself.
- Forgive Yourself and forgive her. By doing so, I’m not as negative and critical about myself and others. I’m more loving to myself and I feel better. I rewrite the story. I AM NOT A VICTIM.
Replace the Critic’s negative talk with a positive affirmation, such as “I am a creative person who is bursting with new ideas!”
- I make a joke—like, “Must be nice to have all that time to write hate mail. Maybe I can hire you to get my deadbeat clients to pay.”
You’re not perfect and you never will be, but so what? You’re a wonderful, competent person. Strive for excellence instead of perfection and you’ll likely accomplish more with less stress.
I used to write poems about my dysfunctional family—but now I write about heroes and the hero’s journey—heroes who acknowledge the past , but don’t get weighed down by it. I’m taking risks now with these poems as well as performance risks with my Irish dancing, guitar and violin.
For if you don’t rewrite the story, you can’t help yourself and you sure can’t help others. Stop letting you’re old “you” walk all over your head. The Inner Critic is taking up way too much space and you need that space and energy for your creativity and brilliance.