I am writing this post in the hope that it will be helpful and let you know you are not alone with your inner critic and there are steps you can take to quieten the voice when it strikes. My gaggle of critics are named after the 1989 film Heathers because they are a bunch of bitches. One is critical of my parenting and relationship with my daughter, another my appearance and lovability, there’s one for financial/’masculine’ decisions and one for general ‘feedback’. Quietening these critical voices can help achieve anything we set our minds to.
“The costs of women’s self-doubt are enormous. Think of all the ideas unshared, businesses not started, important questions not raised, talents unused” - Tara Mohr (Playing Big)
This is how my inner critic turned my irritation at my languid teen daughter into a personal assault in one easy move…
One night a couple of weeks back, while brushing my teeth getting ready for bed, I was seething over my daughter not emptying the dishwasher when I asked her; or picking up her clothes and towel from the bathroom floor; and for leaving empty packets on the worktop instead of the bin. She was asleep so had no one to rant at, my thought process went something like this - She’s 16, practically a grown woman and should be picking up after herself and emptying the dishwasher without even being asked! It’s been on her job list since she was 13, not like it’s a new thing that needs done. My brain starts to spiral into feelings of irritation at having to do everything myself with no help from her then further into the hole, no support from her dad or a partner to pick up the slack. Just then one of my inner critics, chirps up. "Well you’ve not really been working today, doing housework is what you’re supposed to be doing not blogging, don’t get mad at her just cause you’re the mum and in charge." Heather/me hasn’t aligned writing this blog or making art to being in the category of work because it’s not what brings in the regular bucks and doesn’t feel hard enough (who even made up the rule that earning a living should be hard?). The guilt piles on “she’s been at school all day and the least she can expect is a clean house and her tea made. All while you’ve been sitting on the sofa pissing about on the computer and doing pilates!” Yes Heather is quite the dick and seems to be some sort of advocate for the 1950’s housewife lifestyle. “can you expect Bea to reconcile this way of living with the future you strive for? How long will you do it for? When will you give it up because you’re obviously no good at it since you’re not successful? Can you really call it work? Will she expect all jobs to be as easy as yours? Isn’t your job just a hobby”
So that was a fun convo. Unfortunately for Heather I’ve partaken in some courses and read a bunch of books and know how to deal with this nonsense. Part one is to name your critic. Done. Next, notice and acknowledged her, then (in my case) write a blog post about her, which I really hope she likes and tells the other Heathers all about it.
After telling Heather to back off I needed some reassurance that my inner critic wasn’t right so I turned to The Crossroads Of Should and Must Find and Follow Your Passion by Elle Luna. One of the tasks in the book (have I mentioned I love a task?) is to think about what you were like and what you loved to do as a child. This task is about finding your calling, I already know mine but it’s still useful to course check.
I was quiet, solitary, liked my own company and disappeared into my own made up world with dolls and teddies. I made nice homes/doll hospitals in bedroom corners and rearranged furniture in dolls houses; made catwalks out of Ladybird books for Sindy to strut in assorted outfits, sometimes Action Man would make an appearance for the menswear section; I made clothes, dolls; I liked knitting, building with lego, reading, listening to music and dancing.
Check in complete, reassurance achieved and I give no more thought to my Heather interaction.
3 tips for reducing the voice of your inner critic.
Notice your inner critic
Say “thanks inner critic, I’ve got it from here”
Anytime you hear your inner critic you’re definitely on the right track to living your 10 out of 10 life. She’s going to try to keep you comfy, subdued, passive and risk averse.
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Howard Thurman - Philosopher.