Among the majority of my writer clients, a salient concern is the struggle against one's "inner critic," the persistent, sometimes harsh, and almost always shaming voice that belittles or invalidates one's work. Indeed, the term inner critic is such a well-known concept in our culture that millions o dollars are spent on books, tapes and seminars promising to silence--or even banish--this punishing element of most people's inner world.
The problem with this approach, in my view, is twofold:The goal of killing off the self-critical, judgmental pat of your psyche confirms the idea that there's something wrong with you that needs to be fixed; that there's a perfectable "you" in the future who's unencumbered by such conflicts.
Not to mention my second objection, which is that it isn't even possible.
"Killing off" one's inner critic wont' work; it isn't even desirable. It's part of who you are a necessary part, as much as your enthusiasm, your work habits, your loves and hates, our joys an regrets. Because like these other aspects of your emotional life, an inner critic is ta two-edged sword.
The same inner critic that judges our work so severely provides us with the ability to discern our likes and dislikes, to form opinions, to make decisions. It reinforces the faith in our subjective experience that allows us to choose this rather than that.
We need a sense of judgment to navigate in the world. The amount and intensity of that judgment, as with most things, lies along a continuum; hopefully, we possess neither too much nor too little.
Imagine waiting to cross the street at a busy intersection:With too little judgment, you might ignore the "Don't Walk" sign and get run over; with too much judgment you stand frozen wven when the sign reads "Walk," and therefore never get anywhere.
Almost every aspect of our emotional life has an affirming and an invalidating componenet. Our innter critic for example --and learn wht is both postive and negative aout it, in terms of our work and our life.
If we approach our inner critic from this perspective that of a life-long process of examination we can coexist with it. Along with feeling the pain of its intense scrutiny, we also develop the courage to challenge the self-defeating meanings we give to that pain. This has always been the artist's struggle, What Rollo May calls "the courage to create."
You're a writer. Which means, you're your own worst critic. Join the Club.
From Writing From The Inside Out