Alright (deep breath), welcome to the inner workings of my brain. This is a bit intimidating, but here we go…
So, I was reading up on some exercises to ‘work with’ my inner critic. Being a therapist, I have had professional development opportunities in the past where I’ve been guided through therapeutic activities designed to encounter and connect with my own “inner saboteur;” though, within the group/professional context I have to admit my participation has been superficial at best. I usually pretend to be ‘working through’ something when it is expected for me to be doing so, and then quietly listen as others share their transformational experiences with the larger group.
Given this month’s challenge of ‘Critical Re-thinking,‘ I figure my first step is to actually get to know my own inner critic. I came across this particular experiential exercise where one visualizes his/her inner critic and describes him/her/it in writing – almost as a character in a book, film or play. Something about this particular idea drew me in. And, I find comfort in being able to engage in this activity on an individual level, without others around, in my own home. So, today I decided to give it a try. I sat in my favourite, bright orange, Dr. Suess-ian armchair, closed my eyes and began to think about my inner critic and ask the following questions: What does she look like (I decided it was a woman straight away)? What does she do? What does she say to me? After 15 minutes or so of sitting, breathing, thinking and reflecting, here is what I’ve come up with:
My inner critic is a middle aged, experienced woman. She has naturally greying hair, shaped into a bob. Her hair is slightly ruffled, as though she has absent-mindedly run her hands through it while thinking about something important. I imagine her to have a colourful wardrobe. She is casually dressed and looks as though she got dressed in haste (because she has far better things to concentrate on), yet the fabric of her clothing lays on her body in just ‘the right’ way. She’s a ‘yippee’ (hippie turned yuppie). I imagine her sitting in a worn, faded brown leather armchair with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves behind her; alphabetized trophies of her unquestionable intelligence. She’s vegan and shops exclusively at farmer’s markets and Whole Foods. When she goes out to purchase her fruits and veggies, she wears Birkenstocks and a floppy, colourful, striped messenger bag over her shoulder. You know the kind – a bag that looks like she bought it at some artisan market during her travels in South America. Her three successful children are all grown up, and she has close, respectful relationships with all three – they actually like hanging out with her. I imagine her living somewhere like Salt Spring Island with her artist husband, from a second marriage. Life hasn’t been a cakewalk for her, and that’s precisely what makes her so intriguing. She’s not cocky or overbearing; she doesn’t have to be. She doesn’t have to advertise her intellect because within a minute of meeting her, you just know you’re out of your league.
What does she say to me? Well, first of all, she sweeps both of her hands in the air simultaneously from her shoulders to her hips and states matter-of-factly, “you can never be like me. You are a mainstream sellout; you are over-consumed by trivial matters. You should read more. You’ll never be a writer, so stop kidding yourself; you are simply too boring. There is nothing exceptional that defines you. You are average in every sense, and for the record, that is not a good thing. You are not a deep thinker. You have nothing of substance to share with the world.”
(Sheesh! What a bitch! But hey, if she weren’t a bit of a bitch, she wouldn’t be my inner critic would she?)
Wow, okay. So I just put that out there. To the world. Over the internet. Great.
I don’t know what the next step is, but I think I’ll try to have a bit of a conversation with my new-found inner critic over the course of this month. Perhaps I’ll have something “of substance” to say about it all at a later time…