Friday, August 6, 2010

Is your inner critic talking to you?

I was reading a newsletter today where the author touched on people’s inner critic – you know, that little voice in your head that tells you you’re not good enough, smart enough, hard-working enough,
__fill-in-the-blank__ enough. The author relayed the story of a friend who said if a real person talked to her the way she talks to herself, she’d have ditched the friend a long time ago.

No kidding!

This tickled my fancy because I, too, am my own worst enemy. And I wonder why.

It reminds me of the Groucho Marx joke about not wanting to join a club that would have him as a member. Or better yet, in a story in Nasty Book, a book for tweens, about a boy whose imaginary friend runs away because the friend can't stand him.

Now that’s pathetic.

Why is it so hard to be your own best friend?

Theories abound: You grew up in a critical family. You did poorly in school. You weren’t popular with the in-crowd. Your boss and your colleagues hate you. You don’t have even imaginary friends. We internalize all that negativity, and it’s downhill from there.

Or maybe it’s false modesty. After all, if you really believed that critical voice, you wouldn’t be as successful as you are or try to master new challenges. You’d just give up before even trying. But everyone does something. It’s mainly in the learning phase or before we’ve mastered a skill that the little voice screams loudest.

Perhaps it’s a female thing. I think woman are more prone to this than men. Just the other day I was discussing something with my husband who said, “I don’t know why you’re so negative about yourself.” The fact that someone may not be worthy of or deserve what they hope for hadn’t even crossed his mind. For him, if you’re skilled or qualified for what you want, there’s no reason you won’t get it. (I know even he has his inner demons. But it’s sweet that he refused to acknowledge mine.)

I wanted to comment on this because I think it’s interesting. But I couldn’t really think of anything helpful or pithy to say. No insight or lesson to share. So I thought I wouldn’t write anything.

But that’s not what I wanted to do. I then thought people would think what I wrote was stupid. But "inner critic" is a phenomenon we all recognize, so why not comment on it? Because it’s boring unless I have something compelling to say. But do all blog posts have to be enlightening? Does each one have to be a gem?

Will I look foolish or idiotic if one is not? Do I dare put something out there that’s less than perfect? What if this post is too trite? What if I fail? What if I look dumb? Maybe this is a really bad idea.

Shut up already!


  1. This is great! Sometimes I wish I had a "mute" button for that self-destructive inner voice. Then when it starts tearing down my confidence, I could just push "mute" and shut it up!

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  3. I used to call it my "third eye". It sat just above my head out of sight of my first 2 eyes and watched everything I did, and commented too. Ususally not positive, helpful, supportive comments either.

    You are not alone kiddo.
    It has gotten better as Ive gotten older though. I think mainly because Im too tired these days to give a shit anymore. Most of the time.


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