Inner Critic Portrait: Taking Her Down


I must introduce you to Alice, my own personal inner critic. Don’t let her pretty name fool you, as there is nothing pretty about her. She is the epitome of evil; an empty-hearted, soul-less entity.

A Portrait Of My Inner Critic

She perches atop my left shoulder, digging in with long, sharp talons like that of an eagle capturing its prey. If not for the stronghold of those talons, I would have served Alice an eviction notice ages ago, because her dark presence is not welcome on my shoulder.

She’s persistent, I’ll give her that. She stubbornly occupies my left shoulder like a right-to-life protester; such is the strength of her convictions. Her sole purpose for existing is to tear my spirit down, convincing me through perpetual simpering to assume the fetal position -- curled up like a caged animal threatened by death. It’s imperative to Alice that I remain small and quiet. She has practiced and perfected her evil ways as a joy-killer since I got my first taste of fear, more than 50 years ago.

Fortunately, she’s invisible, because you wouldn’t want to be subjected to her grotesque appearance. If you could see Alice, you’d be terrorized by a face covered in dark, hairy melanoma moles, with greenish skin made of sandpaper; a mouthful of worms dangling like serpents from her toothless pus-oozing gums.

Alice’s mean-spirited whispers are for my ears only. My keen sense of hearing receives her loud and low-pitched voice, which I can only imagine was developed by spewing vulgar obscenities, and copious cigarette smoking. Her tongue is long and pointed, stained and pockmarked from eating worms, boogers and fecal matter. She screams gooey strings of obscenities into my ears, especially when I’m about to risk something.

She is a master at fooling me to think that her voice is mine.

Recently, this was her suppuration:

“You’re not a writer, you’re only pretending. When you say you’re a writer, you always hear that voice nagging in your ear that you’re bragging. You have not paid your dues, or worked hard enough to really be a writer. Besides, you have nothing valuable or new to say. You’ve never so much as taken an advanced English class, let alone invested in any training to be a writer. You’ve read amazing writer’s work ever since you could read...what makes you think you have any right to call yourself a writer too? You are NOT a writer. You’re such a fraud. You’ll never be a real writer, or get paid for writing, because you’re just too lazy to follow through. You won’t spend the time to fix your shitty first drafts. You have no patience, and no discipline. How do you ever expect to write something that someone would want to publish? You also take shortcuts. You’d have to work a lot harder and devote serious time to practicing if you ever think you’ll make something of your writing. Oh, and then there’s your lack of imagination...”

Good thing I don’t always believe what this crazy bitch says. Most days my heart speaks louder than she does, but not always.

Naming her helps. Recognizing that she's not me helps too. She is so sneaky, and highly skilled at showing up at the most inopportune times. Once, on an especially vulnerable day, I wrote out everything she thinks of me, in my own voice. Then I wrote the same things, from her voice. It helped me see a way to shift away from identifying with her evil ways.

Awareness is the first, important step in not allowing her to win me over.