“So, how do you handle your inner critic? Do you kill them off (I'm overly fond of "death by wood chipper") or do you embrace them?”
I have a sensitive relationship with my inner critic. I think we finally understand and accept each other. If I allow her to exist in the background, she tries not to overshadow my attempt to do the things I want to do.
First let me explain that I grew up in a strict household. My parents were strict and I knew they loved me but they didn’t accept anything but the very best from me. If I got a B, they wanted to know why I didn’t get an A. If I got an A, they wanted to know why I didn’t get an A+. If I got an A+ they wanted to know why all of my work didn’t have an A+. I really struggled to keep up my grades because I never wanted to disappoint my parents. When I finally grew up, I think this attitude was passed on to my inner critic. Whenever I did something, she wanted to know why I didn’t do it better.
For many years I fought her but next to her, I hate deadlines even worse. I’m so afraid that I won’t have something done by the deadline that I will work hard on getting it done early. This means that there are times that I need to brush her aside and get something accomplished. Then I allow her to come back and look at what I have finished but I don’t let her review it more than twice. At that point, I accept what is finished and let it be.
I have decided that perfectionism isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. I don’t need to be perfect. I just need to do the best that I can and if that isn’t perfect, then it is what it is. Accepting that I’m not perfect has made my life much more enjoyable. But I’m not saying that I need to do a slapdash job either. I know if I’ve given a task my best effort and if I have, I can live with the results and be happy. If I haven’t, then I know that I haven’t and I listen to my inner critic’s disappointment in myself. I deserve it.
So, while I listen to my inner critic, I don’t let her rule my life. I’m in charge of my own life and my own actions. It is alright to evaluate my work but not let it dominate everything I do. I don’t let it paralyze my actions because I fear failure. I try to use my inner critic to move me forward instead of holding me down or holding me back.
I think this is an important thing to show my students too. My actions can be an example for them to guide them in the future. I’ve had many students who refused to try anything because they had failed so much that they didn’t see a reason to even try. I needed to help them be successful in small ways so that they were willing to give things a try instead of letting their inner critic hold them back. I need to share my worries and concerns about my attempts and then let them see how I use them in positive way. As the old saying goes, “actions speak louder than words.”
How do you handle your inner critic? Please share?