Meet my Inner Critic, she’s lovely …

Meet my Inner Critic, she’s lovely ….
…don’t get me wrong, she can speak with a venom that belongs to the most powerful of reptiles but her heart’s in the right place. Let’s take a recent example. A couple of weeks ago I received an email from the British Psychological Society inviting me to speak at their Coaching Psychology Conference next month. Prior to the email I had attended a brilliant workshop from Creative Expansion on `The Inner Critic’, I had done the work and Inner Critic was quiet and peaceful; and I was moving forward to a deserved and joyful future. But the very moment I read that email she was back, laughing raucously, pointing her bony figure saying “You! You are going to tell a room full of psychologists that you don’t need to be a psychologist to give people help at a deeper level”? There is more, louder, raucous laughter, she’s holding her tummy now and can hardly spit her words out. “You, who didn’t even get a first degree, you – a northerner who mumbles rather than articulates, you’ll be lucky if they can understand what you’re saying” (this accompanied by a film reel replay of everyone I have ever met saying “pardon?”. Well I could go on, but you get the gist. So, why do I think she’s lovely? Well, what I learned on my workshop and what has worked well, and is working well here, is understanding where that response is coming from. The Inner Critic, as I understand it, is a version of all the sage parenting you received, given a personal twist (sometimes of the knife) to try to keep you safe. If you’re a fan of Brene Brown or Marianne Williamson, it’s what they refer to as “playing small”, keeping out of harm’s way. If I decline that amazing invitation, I will not be hurt – I don’t risk making a fool of myself, I don’t risk being heckled by those psychologists, I don’t risk seeing crumpled faces, whispering to each other “What’s she saying?”, I don’t risk the inevitable racing heart rate and anxiety of public performance. You see? My Inner Critic is trying to protect me, just in the same way she tells me to check for traffic before I cross a road. So, how to deal? Well I have to look her in the eye and thank her for her concern, I have to understand where she is coming from and, I have to acknowledge those risks but be brave and have the courage to do it anyway, in spite of all that . Theodore Roosevelt said it best and if you don’t know it, I recommend a read through his April 23rd, 1910 speech at the Sorbonne, the bit that starts “It is not the critic who counts ….”. Meanwhile, I have a presentation to write.

2 thoughts on “Meet my Inner Critic, she’s lovely …

  1. As a psychologist and a member of the SGCP, reading your posts I think you would make an excellent contribution to the conference. You are absolutely right that every psychologist was a human being first. One of the main contributions of psychology IS to help us understand being human. However it is absolutely not the only group of people equipped to understand what being human can be like at both both its best and worst. Come and bring your unique perspective – that’s more than enough.

    Liked by 1 person

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