A few weeks ago, I watched an episode of Jane the Virgin (I was desperately trying to catch up so I could watch the final season). In the episode, Jane is trying to start her second book, but struggles against her inner critic (and writer’s block) trying to come up with a story concept, and struggling when nothing feels right.
As I watched the episode, I realized something: Jane and I were having the same problem. She and I were both struggling to get back in the groove after professional failures. Jane had a failed book under her belt, I have a failed venture into entrepreneurship and a recent layoff.
But where Jane pushed to get through it, I…wasn’t. And I hadn’t tried for a while. My struggle with my inner critic, imposter syndrome, or whatever you want to call it had taken over my life. I hadn’t put hands to keyboard to write a blog post in two years. So I decided to take a page out of Jane’s book and figure out how to get around it.
The Inner Critic
In the show, Jane’s internal struggles manifest as a comically exaggerated version of herself. Her inner critic, for example, looks like a stereotypical librarian, complete with cat-eye glasses, fitted cardigans, and a snobby attitude about pretty much every decision Jane makes. The show uses this as a plot device to show Jane’s innermost thoughts while she struggles with and overcomes her insecurities about her writing.
So why couldn’t I use the same method to figure out what was driving my inner critic?
I started with what my inner critic looks like which, for the record, is immaculate. “Effortlessly” stylish in the ways of Madewell from five years ago, impeccably done hair, and the sort of job that lets her actually maintain a nice manicure. I’m sure she drives a Tesla just for the brand credo.
After I put a face to the name, I started to flesh out my inner critic’s attitude. And as I was doing that, I realized something: my inner critic is a brat. She’s critical (obviously), but not in any way that’s even remotely constructive. She demands improvements with no suggestions on what said improvements should be. Or, worse yet, she just tells me I’m doing it wrong.
My inner critic is like every bad boss I’ve ever had rolled up into one terrible, terrifying headspace tyrant. The worst part is that I can’t walk away from her at the end of the work day, because she comes from my own insecurities.
But, if her power comes from my own self-criticism, than I can take away her power just as easily.
What’s Blogging Got to Do with It
If you weren’t singing the Tina Turner classic “What’s Love Got to Do With It” when you read that section title, well…you’re welcome. But I digress.
Identifying where my inner critic came from and why my mentality about her wasn’t working was a great first step in tackling my bigger problem. But now comes the question of how to make a change and move forward.
I confess: it took me six weeks to write this blog post. I threw up every single excuse my inner critic fed me, but I finally pushed them all aside and just did the dang thing. And that’s the only way that we all can get past our own insecurities.
Vincent Van Gogh once said, “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced”. So what am I doing to silence my inner critic and kick her to the curb? For starters, I’ve committed to getting up early and doing morning pages to start my day. I’ve successfully done that for almost a month. But my biggest commitment is to publish a post here every two weeks.
Today’s the first day of a big change in my life, and I hope it inspires you to kick your inner critic to the curb and join me on the path to just doing the dang thing. How do you imagine your inner critic? What are some ways you’ve learned to get around your negative self talk? Let me know in the comments!