Is Your Inner Critic An Asshole?

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This isn’t going to be very funny, or witty, or humorous, my friends, but I still think you’ll relate to my son-of-a-bitch of an inner critic.  In fact, I daresay you have one too – possibly a bit less crass, a bit nicer, but you’ve got one nonetheless.

I’m heading in to surgery the day before my 41st birthday.  While finishing up my last semester of college I found a lump in my throat which I blatantly ignored as I studied for finals, wrote my senior thesis, and waited on the edge of my seat to find out if my Valedictorian nomination would mean I had to give a speech to thousands of kids, twenty-some years younger than I, wearing green gowns and caps with yellow tassels.

While I ignored this lady lump on the surface, my subconscious was busy deciding that I needed to move home to be closer to family.  Everyone in my circle asked after my plans “where will you live?” or “what will you do?” I had no idea and, for the first time in my life, I didn’t see a clear vision of my future or of what I wanted.

Now I know why.

After I settled into my brother’s house with three other adults, four children, and a passel of dogs, my conscious mind told me to get my shit together and deal with the lump.  I went in for tests and was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.  (Typically, I adore all things Asian, this…not so much.)  I was told I needed an ultrasound and when the technician spent an inordinately long amount of time in the same two spots, and then called in her supervisor, I knew something wasn’t right.  I mean, I know they’re not allowed to tell you anything, and I’m not a rocket scientist, but their faces, mannerisms, and excessive picture taking was clue enough for my dim wit.

After it was confirmed that I had, not one, but a few lady lumps, I was told I needed a biopsy to see if the big “C” was present.  I’m not afraid of needles, per se, but when said needles are mining around in your throat like a jackhammer on a Saturday morn in New York City, it tends to get a bit intense.

Then I waited.  And I waited, and I waited for that path report. For eleven days my Inner Critic and I argued back and forth:

Inner Critic: You have cancer, you git.  It’s all those Nerd Ropes you’ve eaten over the years.  Not to mention the Sunkist Orange soda and countless hours spent in front of the tv playing Zelda.

Me: I don’t have cancer.

Inner Critic: Yeah you do, and when you were thirteen you stole a pack of your mom’s cigarettes so you could look cool and twenty-some years later you’re still huffing, trying to look cool inside. Your best friend is a menthol light.

Me: I don’t have cancer.

Inner Critic: You’re going to die right after you’ve moved home to be closer to your family.  Look at all those years you were away.  Look at all you missed.  What?  So you could go to a Journey concert and ride on a tractor?  So you could dive out of a plane?  So you could learn to surf and be the only white girl dancing the soul train? So you could finish college with the most marketable degree ever? Ha! English/Creative Writing and Religious Studies?  The recruiters are just lining up, aren’t they?  You’re a selfish bitch.

Me: .  .  .

Inner Critic: You should have never laid out on the trampoline sunbathing with tinfoil under your thighs.  You should have never microwaved your popcorn.

And the dialogue continues.

Then the nurse called.

My lumps were non-diagnostic.  Essentially, in laymen’s terms, they have no unearthly idea if they’re cancerous or not.  So, the doctor recommended a surgeon and I’m to have my thyroid and these lumps removed posthaste.

This isn’t an easy decision for someone who believes in the emotional correlation to physical illness.  My Inner Critic and I had a few choice words over this as well:

Inner Critic: What do you need your thyroid and those lady lumps for? Decoration? A place to hang your scarves?

Me: But what if I can just deal with the emotional issues behind this and get well on my own?

Inner Critic: Who do you think you are? Louise-f*cking-Hay? Why don’t you just write an affirmation on the mirror with that ugly ruby red lipstick you wore last Halloween.  Poof! You’re healed.

Me: I feel like these lumps are a manifestation of the fact that I’m not using my voice.  I’m not writing.

Inner Critic: Well, laddddeeeee-f*cking-dah.

Me: It just feels so circular.  I’m not writing so I’ve developed a health condition that’s screaming at me to use my voice.  I’m not writing BECAUSE I have a health condition that’s affecting my voice.

Inner Critic: Get over yourself Louise, you’ve got lipstick on your teeth.  You’re going to die before you’ve finished your novel and you will have wasted your life and your purpose.

Yup, my Inner Critic is the meanest a-hole I’ve ever encountered.

This is far from over.

Is it just me or does anyone else have a NASTY inner critic?  Is it possible to bring healing to our inner critics? How do you get your inner critic to shut its piehole? Advice wholly welcome.

17 replies
  1. Christin says:

    Sounds like you and I have a lot in common dealing with our inner critic. I find that it is myself and my ego that I must be rid of, my friend. Whenever the *itty shitty* committee starts firing up in my head, I shoot up a prayer. I ask for the willingness to open my mind up and receive whatever lesson it is I am suppose to learn from that exact moment in time.

    In your case, it sounds like you have done a ton of AMAZING things throughout your life. Be grateful you had the opportunity to be involved in these things, it takes drive and ambition. I have been trying to write a novel since I was born.

    Furthermore, when I find that I am consumed in negative thinking it is ALL fear related. F*ck fear. It is crippling. I have to work with someone else: call someone, write a letter, THINK OF SOMEONE ELSE OTHER THAN CHRISTIN.
    When I begin to focus on the answer, the answer increases. When I focus on the problem, the problem increases.

    Godspeed to you friend, and you are in my prayers.

    Reply
    • Melanie Bates says:

      Wow Christin… Digesting this and I’ve read it a few times. I am extremely grateful for the experiences I’ve had thus far in my life. This “illness” has definitely been a lesson and I think the answer lies in Richard Rhodes words, “Apply Ass to Chair.”

      Reply
  2. LadyBug says:

    No, it is not just you. That inner critic must come alive at about age four and works hard to beat us down everyday…but you must be a strong woman…’cause you ain’t beaten down..and you never will be. Tell the critic that you love her and no matter how bad she acts, you will always love her. Ask her what she needs from you that will make her hush for the day..and give her whatever she requests. You may be ill for the moment..but you MUST and you WILL get well because you’re writing is good for the soul. We need you!!

    Reply
    • Melanie Bates says:

      Wow, thanks LadyBug. I’m inspired by your amazing words! I wonder what makes that inner critic come alive for all of us?

      Reply
  3. Sheena LaShay says:

    First of, and I mean it with love but your inner critic is a FUCKING ASSHOLE. Damn!!!! I mean seriously. She is a freaking bully!!! Awhile back I wrote a post called “Trash in the Temple” and it stemmed from doing my morning pages where I wrote out these affirmations and immediately after writing them out my little demons, the fucking bastards, just went crazy. I wrote down all the things they said inside my head and then it hit me, sometimes we are in abusive relationships with OURSELVES. The things we say to ourselves we would NEVER EVER allow ANYONE on the face of the earth to even think. We’d cut them in half if someone else said it and yet we say it to ourselves ALL THE TIME.

    I was even having dinner with a girl last night and she said things of herself like, “I’m a loser.” “I’ll feel guilty” “I’m paranoid.” and the list continued. Every time, I said, “Why do you keeping beating the shit out of yourself. What is wrong?”

    God good, why we do this is far beyond me? I think some constructive criticism of ourselves is fine but some of these critics have morphed into beastly devils!!! UGH. Just saying.

    http://sheenalashay.com/2010/08/trash-in-the-temple/

    Reply
    • Melanie Bates says:

      Sheena,

      I know, right. He is a fucking asshole. I LOVE your *Trash in the Temple*. So very, very true and you made me sit down hard when you said, “sometimes we are in abusive relationships with OURSELVES.” Damn, that’s profound.

      Love to you and your inner critic! xoxo

      Reply
  4. Trisha says:

    Dear Melanie,

    I love how you listened to your inner wisdom and moved closer to family. In sickness and health it’s cool to be near family.
    .
    As far as your inner critic, yup, asshole! I got one too. But I’ve made friends (so to speak) with mine. Or maybe, better put, I have found my inner brat energy that tells it to fuck off when it gets carried away with telling me how much I suck.

    I couldn’t experience any of my heart desires without having this energy in place.

    How do I channel it, you ask?

    First I journal-write with my dominant hand (the hand I normally write with), and let the inner critic spill onto the page whatever it dares say about what ever issue I may be having at the time. I let it rip on me for about 5 minutes, a girl only can take so much, right?

    Then I switch my pen over to my non-dominant hand (hand I don’t normally write with), re-read what the inner critic spewed at me and then I let the inner brat express however, whatever it dares onto the page. No editing, no worries on language, just let the inner brat that you buried back in the day, OUT!!

    I’ve been practicing and teaching this method for awhile. It works. I can do it in my mind now. When a particular issue sparks the inner critic, even during coaching sessions, I can let it say a bit, then call on the inner brat and tell it I can do what ever the hell I want, thanks for that, but fuck off, I’m working now!

    Try it, let me know how it feels for you.

    Reply
    • Melanie Bates says:

      Dear Trisha,

      I LOVE that, thank you so much for sharing. I will definitely try it. And I adore that you call it your Inner Brat and give it that leeway. Awesome!

      Thank you, thank you.
      xo
      Melanie

      Reply
  5. Nicole Pierce says:

    My inner critic is quite loud and persistent. I have complex/compound post traumatic stress syndrom due to growing up in a very physically, emotionally, sexually, and psychologically abusive home. My inner critic is the voice of the-crazy-lady-who-gave-birth-to-me-and-raised-me and it’s ingrained in me because it developed while I was developing. My best defense is to recognize who’s voice it is, tell her she is terrible and evil and has no power over me, and pretend she is the glass jar in my hand and break her on some hard-ass concrete. That usually shuts her up, at least until the next trigger. But seriously, who does your destructive inner critic voice come from?

    Reply
    • Melanie Bates says:

      I love that strategy, Nicole! It’s likely pretty therapeutic! My inner critic voice probably comes from an amalgamation of a number of people from my past all rolled into one. It’s one nasty bugger, for sure. I think it was Martha Beck who talked about feeding her inner critic peanuts and patting it on the head. I tend to just argue with mine and use Byron Katie’s thought work on it.

      Many blessings on dealing with yours and thanks for commenting.

      xo
      Melanie

      Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] which I don’t know much about. (I wrote about my thyroidectomy and Hashimotos in my blog: Is Your Inner Critic an Asshole?) The gist of it is that I’m on an Anti-Inflammatory diet from hell and working to manage my […]

  2. […] stifle your strength and bust your moves.  Retreat if you need to. I know I had a hell of a time controlling my Inner Critic when we argued over whether or not I had thyroid cancer.  The dialogue went something like […]

  3. […] About seventy five feet off the ground I started arguing with my monkey mind inner critic. […]

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