Ah yes, we all have an internal critic whether we know it or not. You know that voice inside your head that gives you the “reality check” on those fun thoughts. The voice that likes to crush your passion and told you lovingly that it was fine that you loved to dance when you were six, but you would never make any money at it so you needed to study hard and become a lawyer. Some of you may have had parents, teachers or friends that actually say things like this to you. Comments like these may have planted the seeds for who your critic is today.
I have had the gift of being able to identify my own critic, but not until recently. I have named him Bert. My first name is Robert and considering my critic is part of me, it only seemed fitting. I also think Bert would be an awful nerdy name to have (unless you were Burt Reynolds and spelled it Burt instead of Bert, somehow this makes all the difference). But I digress. Here’s the deal, I can’t hate Bert and I can’t kill him…he’s with me for the long haul. Much like Bert from the famous Sesame Street Bert & Ernie pair…my Bert is intelligent and extremely boring and likes to play it safe (while keeping things very tidy).
I also think of Bert as a cross between Mad Men’s Don Draper and The Lord of the Rings Gollum character. Yes, quite contrasting. Am I crazy? Maybe, just a little. Guess what I do now that I’m more aware of Bert? I tell him “thank you for the advice, but I’m going to try it this way”. Let me give you an example. When I write or have thoughts of writing, Bert wakes up real quick. He whispers things like “nobody wants to hear what you have to say” and “there isn’t anything new to say, it’s all been said, nobody cares” and my favorite is “you’re wasting your time, you’ll never make a dime writing, how will you live…your dogs will starve!” Talk about Debbie Downer, right?
Make it personal
It can help to think of your internal critic as a loving parent who only wants to protect you, because this is essentially what it is. The key is to become aware and acknowledge your critic. Whether you’re trying to rediscover your passion in life or simply trying something new and creative at work, listen to your critic. Can you name him or her? Maybe your critic isn’t even human? I feel it helps to identify it in some way. I enjoy telling Bert to go take a nap.
Take a look at these inspiring quotes about critics…oh if we could only all be like Frank Sinatra.
“Critics don’t bother me because if I do badly, I know I’m bad before they even write it. And if I’m good, I know I’m good. I know best about myself, so a critic doesn’t anger me.”
“Perfection is an imaginary state of quality distinguished from the actual by an element known as excellence; an attribute of the critic.”
“If you have no critics you’ll likely have no success.”
“A critic is someone who never actually goes to the battle, yet who afterwards comes out shooting the wounded”
Do you have an internal critic? Tell us about it….