That inner critic (sigh).

The inner critic  

Seagulls
The seagull will become relevant, honest.

Who doesn’t have one?  That little (or sometimes the loudest voice) in the room that rubbishes attempts and accomplishments.  Mine typically is reserved for when I think I am doing okay at something and acts as the saboteur. I am always impressed by its effectiveness and efficiency. “That at least” I think as I mess up whatever I was doing “I can do well”

It doesn’t actually stop me from doing a lot of things, I am irritatingly stubborn (and I wouldn’t be writing this otherwise) but it does critique me pretty harshly.  And performing tasks in front of others – my idea of a nightmare. Nope. No thank you, if I can at all avoid it.

Jay Earley and Bonnie Weiss identified seven types of inner critic. (Wow that’s a lot of critiquing).  The perfectionist, the taskmaster, the inner controller, the guilt tripper, the destroyer, the underminer, and the molder.

I recognise the perfectionist well.

In your own voice

Speaking as a qualified psychiatrist (jokes) I suspect that these critics do not necessarily remain the same over a lifetime depending on how you work it and also what life shows you.  *Peoples with actual bona fide mind knowledge qualifications do feel free to correct me*.

Asked recently on a writing course  geared towards taking risks we were asked to think of our inner critics as an animal.  I thought immediately of a seagull.  A persistent nagging swooping missile who knows exactly where to aim.*

Owl with head on side
Image from Huffington post.

Asked to choose an animal as a protector I thought of an owl.  I didn’t pick this one because I thought it wise.  I chose it slightly tongue in cheek thinking it must have a bit of a dodgy stomach. (All that regurgitation malarkey and when I feel anxious, like many people I always, always feel it in my stomach.)

There is though a defensiveness I feel about my inner critic, does it do me down or keep me humble?  Does it help me to be better?  Sometimes I think it does and I am not sure I want it always to be quiet.  Sometimes I think I might need it.

How to speak to it

According to the wonder that is Wikipedia, there are two ways of dealing with the pesky inner critic.  You can fight it. “Treat it as an enemy to be ignored, dismissed and fought against, or overcome.” Or you can make friends with it making “it possible to connect with the critic and transform it over time into a helpful ally”.  I guess it depends on your own special brand.

Invited to take a risk writing something in a medium we would not normally choose the course I thought I would write a love song to my own special inner critic – between the owl and the seagull.  

Inevitably it is not perfect. Some of my poem actually makes me cringe actively and some of what I wrote I like BUT love songs are allowed to be bad, (or less good if I was being kind) aren’t they?  And perhaps when dealing with your own perfectionist inner critic that is the point. 🙂

Do you have an inner critic? Do you make it a fiend or a friend? 

For more tips on how to stand up to your inner critic see Ted.com or click here

The owl and the seagull

(Owl to the seagull)

Angular pristine day breaker

The wave maker

Where would I be without you

Push me on; unnerve me

Take the smoothest route –

and swerve it.

 

(Seagull to the owl)

Fearless risking flight taker

Velvet feathered dream shaper

In love with your dark round ringed eyes

See all, be all

Stare in ponds of reflection,

At planets, stars and skies.

 

(Owl to the seagull)

Sea foam pirate persistent caller

Never leaves me,

When I’ve had my humble fill

Ransomed promises and schemes me

 

(Seagull to owl)

Night stalker, soft lone talker

Steadies, charms and soothes me

Believe we are safe.

Disarms then deceives me.

 

(Owl to seagull)

Search me out over distance and reach me

Nature insists –

Drive your beak in.

With my sharpened talons I will take you

Cut, break and reshape you.

 

Our strength, our weakness could be switched.

Do we really know always which is which?

No sweet fruit without sting in the tale.

Some hard earned passions could be fails.

Learn to love each and learn to share.

Fifty fifty percent of air.

 

The writing course is called Transformation and is run by Jackie Pavlenko. It can be found over at www.pressingletters.co.uk

 

 

 

2 Responses

  1. Tony Brown

    Hi Elby,
    I liked the poem and the two evocative images. Both birds I notice; … no skunks or weasels here! And for me your writing hits the spot: the owl and the seagull need each other. Maybe that’s the whole nub of the critic’s existence? Without it – arrogance; too much of it – inner deadlock and no creativity. A gently held and harmonious balance being the elusive position to strive for. What use is the owl if there’s nothing in need of protection? What use is the seagull if there’s never any crazy over-enthusiasm? I had to look up the term “inner critic” as I wasn’t familiar with it. I found myself going back to Freud’s superego and Klein’s paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions: more familiar to me, but still confusing after many attempts to understand them. I do find Klein’s story the more inviting though, because it’s so dynamic: the child (and later the adult) tussling with inner fears and passions. Thanks for another greater blog! It got me reading stuff again and asking myself all sorts of questions. Keep it coming 👏😊

    • elbyjewellery

      Thanks for the response Tony B. x Must be my inner Twitcher coming out! I did wonder that – the need for each to keep a balance keep at bay that narcissist perhaps… I had to go back and read more about Freud and Klein as well. I can see how the ideas are similar to the ego/superego/paranoid-schizoid. Complex ideas to get to grips with (especially for me) but I guess it is the split isn’t it(?) that is most similar – those two forces battling/working it out. Interesting that different schools of thought often have these theories that seem like they are cut from the same cloth or overlapping seams at least. I am sure there would be a similar theory in sociology if only I could remember any of my degree. Ha. x

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