Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Say Goodbye to Your Inner Critic
I’ll never forget the day those slippery white pages rubbed against my fingertips as I danced across the living room floor.
I was published. In my favorite national magazine. Wait until my friends opened their mailboxes…
If I had known, I would have waited. Forever.
He came to me that day. His fingertips brushed the slippery white pages, but he definitely wasn’t dancing.
“You shouldn’t feel this way,” he said as he pointed at the article. “Pastor’s kids just shouldn’t.”
Then he walked away.
I stood there – stunned. Pastor’s kids shouldn’t feel? Not that way? They shouldn’t admit to their grief? To their pain?
I’d poured myself into that article. I’d shared about my teen struggles. I’d shared about how God met me in those struggles. I’d laid my heart out in the open…
And suddenly it was doused with a cold bucket of reality.
It’s been 7 years since that day. I made peace with my friend long ago. And even though I don’t think about his words often, I know they affected me. Because somewhere… in the depths of my heart… my friend agreed with my inner-critic.
All of us have an inner-critic. You know, that voice that says WHAT IF. What if the article doesn’t turn out? What if this is the worst idea ever? And even more frightening – what if someone misunderstands?
I probably titled this post badly. I’m not sure we ever say goodbye permanently to our inner-critics. The truth is… they are always there. But over the past 7 years I’ve learned how to give mine a sleeping pill.
POPPING THE CHILL-PILL
1. Listen to your inner-critic for a little while. Is he being reasonable? Usually not. (Not unless he’s telling you not to write about something that’s libelous or offensive. But usually that’s your own conscience talking… not your inner-critic.)
2. Write a letter to a CLOSE friend. If you’re worried about people being critical about your story, this is the perfect way to get around it. Just put your idea on paper for the most accepting person you know. You can always edit later.
3. Know that someone – at some point – WILL criticize. It will happen. (I write a weekly newspaper column, and occasionally get a letter from someone who has misunderstood my intent.) Do your best to make peace with that person… but in the end, know that we are all created uniquely with different perspectives and different sensitivities.
So go give your inner-critic the chill pill. And when you’re done, post your story here in the comment section. Because I think you’ll find we want to be some of the most accepting people you know.