One thing to know about the inner critic is that it cannot be appeased.


It doesn’t help to reason. Whatever the facts you produce, however tight your reasoning, the critic can always come back with a question, or a doubt, an objection, or a demand for more evidence.

It doesn’t help to collapse, imagining the inner-critic will settle down once it sees you’re beaten. Because the moment you rouse yourself from your fall, it will be back, baying for more.

It doesn’t help to join in the fight, trading blows, getting into battle. The critic has more energy and more persistence than you know – it’s been around as part of humanity for much longer than you have.

Two ways to go that might support you:

The first is to understand that having an inner-critic is human, and that it’s being stirred is a sign that you’re up to something stirring. All art, all creativity, all speaking wholehearted truth, all genuine self-expression, all standing out, all taking the risk of saying what needs to be said, all stirs the critic into its defensive action. Reinterpret the critic – not as a sign of your failure and your brokenness, but of your aliveness. The very aliveness it wants to have you keep in check.

The second is to give it lots of space. Yes, let it rage, let it complain, let it hurl accusations at you. But, instead of having your face pressed up against the bars of your cage while it takes chunks out of you… instead if you can feel your enormity, your spaciousness, it’s less like being trapped in a small space with a tiger and more like being the whole zoo, or the whole city. How much can it hurt you when you’ve that room within you? How much can it eat you, or throttle you, or force your collapse?

And, each time it gets to you, please remember to be kind to yourself. Being caught in an attack by the critic is not proof that you deserve the attack – just that, this time, you didn’t find a way to separate yourself from it.

There will be a next time, and a time after, and a time after that. And over time, in no rush, perhaps a tiny bit more space will open, and a bit more, and a bit more – with many steps back along the way.

And each step, forward or back, is part of the necessary and life-giving work of becoming free to speak, act, lead and contribute with your whole heart.

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