Ten Minute Tuesday: Talking to Your Critic

We all have at least one in our head. One critic that doesn’t shut up. He or She is the critic in the stands that Brene’ Brown often refers too. They aren’t supposed to matter because they do not get down in the arena with you. They don’t wrestle with the world and come up dirty. This critic tries to stay above it all. Always criticizing  but never trying. Since this is National Letter Writing month  let’s write  a letter to this critic, Tell this critic what you think of them. See who they are clearly in your mind. Man or woman? Insolent child? Think of this letter as standing up and addressing them directly. If they are a critic that is not willing to get down in the mire with you, do you fire them? Send them on vacation for a while? What do you want to say? I once wrote a letter to this critic firing them. He was a cranky old man in my head. One who was never happy with anything at all. It didn’t matter how good something was, HE did not like it. So I fired him. Now, I will warn you, since firing him, he does not come around as often, though a couple of new ones took his place. But everyone once in a while the cranky old man slips past my defenses and into my head once again like an employee who never gets the hint that he is doing terrible at his job. So I have to fire him again. Here is my letter to the critic in my head and how I fired him.

Dear Critic in the Stands,
I’m letting you go.
I’m saying good-bye to your harsh tones and your sandpaper words
that scrape away
the soft parts of my heart.
I’m turning away from you,
and
Leaving you standing with your arms crossed and
frown lines on your face
while tapping your foot.
This relationship is not working for me.
I do not enjoy having you shred my skin away,
expose the broken bones beneath
while you are up in the stands, keeping your hands clean
and your bones safe.
I have made my list of the ones who matter,
tucked it in my pocket… the loved ones who get down in the mud with me.
So, I will tell you again.
I’m letting you go.
I’m saying good-bye.
Please leave the arena now,
you are fired.
Sincerely,
Susan

One thought on “Ten Minute Tuesday: Talking to Your Critic

  1. I have fired a critic or two over the years, though not as eloquently as you have shown here. For me, the bigger challenge had always been keeping that invisible critic silenced long enough for it to make enough of a difference… it took over 40 years of creative writing, plus my more recent years of journalling… all of which included the feedback of several trusted instructors who served as my real flesh-and-blood critics before I allowed myself to more consistently believe in myself. More recently I have gained an appreciation of taking control of those inner-critics while reading some of your inspiring pieces like this one. Perhaps it is time I tried your method of writing a letter to that critic in my head using a no-nonsense direct voice.

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