Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Critic Cycle

Sometimes there's actually too much for me to blog about.

Sometimes? Often. I could post here everyday if I had the time - if I prioritized it.

But lately there's a spinning theme that all interrelates:
The critic.
Valuing writing/our voices.
Doing what we value, or not doing it, because of or despite the critic...
(Rinse, repeat)

It all started with my assigning reading about, and discussing, the Critic for my new Marquette Contemplative Writing class. The day of our discussion, I searched for games/writing prompts for ousting the Critic and I found this blog post by Tara Mohr. It's brilliant. I wish I'd written it, but I don't care that I didn't - I am just happy that it exists.

Parsing out the voice of the Critic (or Critics) from the voice(s) of Reason is very hard for a lot of people. The Critic is old, has been around a long time, seems to know you pretty well. It sounds logical, reasonable, and let's face it, most of us feel we are not hard enough on ourselves (which is absurd) and so we are likely to believe a voice that shows us what we think is "the truth" - we are not doing good enough, we are not good enough. In fact, the Critic (I believe) has so much power BECAUSE we believe, deep down inside, everything it says is true. And so when the Critic speaks up, we get sad/frustrated, but also there's a certain "Well, it's right though. So I deserve/needed to hear this."

In talking to Dylan today about her inner Critic, I asked her "Do you actually get anything done when your Critic tells you you aren't doing enough?"
"No." she replied, which of course I knew from personal experience was going to be the answer.

Tara Mohr points out these inconsistencies as well as gives solid reasons why not to even try to argue with your critic in a later post. Mohr is writing about business/entrepeneurialship, but she's got it down. I tell folks the line(s) that she states so many times a week, in fact, just said it to a student before coming home a half hour ago, that I would make a fortune if I got a nickel each time. This is something to the effect of (here I am quoting Mohr because she says it so well):

Kindly say, “Thanks so much for your input! But I’ve got this one covered! You can relax.”
Or get out of mental dialogue entirely. Get into action. Connect. Start doing the thing it’s chattering about.
Respond by remembering that this is the same stuff your critic has been saying to you for years, that it has yet to be proven true, and that today, like every day is your opportunity to prove it false.

I can't tell you how important this stuff is. Paint or plaster it directly on your wall. Write it on the inside of your wrist. Only once we can figure out when Bullshit is running the show can we actually be compassionate with ourselves. And when we are relaxed and open, that's the ONLY time we will get anything done that is of benefit to ourselves and/or the world.

Debate me in the comments, I invite it. But first, take a good hard look at that list and ask yourself the same question I asked Dylan, and that Mohr asks: When you believe your Critic, or fight with your Critic, do you ever actually get anything done?

I didn't think so. Stop the cycle.

1 comment:

  1. It is good to keep in mind also that the Critic is really there to protect you - just a little wrong-mindedly. It senses there is something huge there - a deep fear or desire - and is putting up lots of red flags. Gently remind it ("Thanks for the information but I've got this one") that you don't need it anymore.