Yes, the inner critics can be a force for good.
For years I’ve tried unsuccessfully to ignore my inner critics. Those voices in your head that point out every weakness and mistake and make your life generally miserable. And for years I’ve failed to drown out the little buggers.
Then I read this article about how a woman learned to love them. She explained that the voices are actually on your side but like so many well-meaning obnoxious relatives they don’t know how to help so they focus on insults and criticism.
I should mention here that what I’m talking about are the self-generated voices in your head, not the external ones that come from supernatural possession or mental illness. Those voices are almost never helpful.
For me, the strongest voice is the one that tells me my writing is no good. I’ve never been able to block out that voice. Now what I’m doing is agreeing with it. Yes, my writing is no good, but it’s a first draft. First drafts aren’t supposed be any good. What I’m doing now is promising to rewrite it and make it better. That seems to be working.
What I’ve also discovered is that instead of one inner critic I have several. Realizing this has been very helpful. It allows me to address each as a minor problem rather than one big negative force. Among the voice I have found; the perfectionist, the guilt-tripper, the manly man, the voice of doom and others yet to be labeled.
This process has led to an understanding of the positive side of the voices. The voice of doom for instance; while it comes up with horrible possibilities it also the part of my brain responsible for my wild imagination when I’m writing. You can’t have one without the other.
So now instead of saying to the voice of doom, “That could never happen,” I say, “Yes, that could happen, but I will try to avoid it.”
I’m still struggling with the likes of the guilt-tripper. It keeps inventing potential guilt for things I’m not likely ever to do. As usual, this is all a work in progress.