hello world – meet my goat.
This is inner critic goat. I acquired him at a small boutique while in New Hampshire a few weeks ago with friends. He wasn’t called inner-critic goat then, of course. He was just an ordinary (though cute – in a demented sort of way) and wooly little finger puppet. I liked his odd fuzziness. I liked his tacked on limbs and scruffy beard. But as soon as I popped him on my finger, I knew I’d found him: my inner-critic goat.
Now I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have a highly developed inner critic. For those of you not feeling up-to-speed with your therapy-speak, your inner-critic in the person who talks to you like you’re an incompetent child whenever you for strive for something new. Inner-critics are particularly good at speaking up when the project involves creativity. “Don’t bother trying to write that novel. I really don’t think you have it in you,” your inner critic might offer. “There are so many better painters in the world – I don’t know why you would waste your time that way,” would be another clever inner-critic offering.”
If you have any inner dialogue at all along the lines of “you might as well give up”, “you’ll never be any good at this,” or “why don’t you just stick with what you’re good at,” than chances are that you’ve got a solid inner critic too. It applies to academic research too. “You aren’t saying anything new here — maybe academia isn’t for you,” or “you may have fooled the prof with that paper, but she knows you shouldn’t really be here,” are fine examples of what the inner critic is capable of.
Inner critics are often really hard to overcome. That’s because the voices are often coming from within your very head, making them sound that much more convincing. It’s often hard to distinguish your inner critic’s blathering from the solid voice of reality.
There are all kinds of self-help books out there offering up tips for keeping your inner critic in-check: write in a journal, write all the inner critic’s thoughts down on a piece of paper and throw it away, silence the inner critic as best you can…OR… TALK BACK TO IT!”
That’s right boys and girls: it’s time to bully your inner critic the way your inner critic bullies you. Hence the goat. I figured that if I found myself a character who could embody my inner critic, I could more readily address the voice. I now keep inner-critic goat propped up on my desk. Whenever I’m feeling stuck, or whenever I hear the nagging voice of self doubt clearing her throat, I turn my attention to inner-critic goat and give the poor wooly beast a talking to. Or at least that’s my intention. Now, when my inner critic gets really obnoxious, I can pluck him off my desk and stuff him in a drawer. Take that, inner-critic goat.
(Do you have strategies for dealing with your inner critic? Let’s have ‘em!)