We all have Inner Critics. Some of us have several of them. Journal therapy practice helps us to plow through the Critic’s debilitating tactics, and transform them into useful coaching. The recipe calls for plenty of pen, paper, and journaling, tunneling through the morass of inner doubt, guilt, and fear until we can begin to see the light of day with greater consistency.
The process involves intentional role playing, as you conduct conversations in your journal with your Critic. While picturing the Critic as specifically as you can, write down the dialog that goes on in your head (or your heart).
Critic: You are so stupid.
Critic: Why did you do that?
You: I dunno.
Critic: You’ll never get anywhere.
You: You’re probably right.
Recognizing that this confession of total guilt regarding the Critic’s accusations is really not accurate, after a few days you move the conversation a bit closer to the truth.
Critic: Gawd you are ugly.
You: No doubt about it.
Critic: Nobody likes you.
You: (pause) That’s not quite true… My dog loves me.
Critic: Big deal.
You: Yeah, I think it is.
And after a while, your inner dialog can transform fundamentally. If you face the Critic squarely, if you are honest and persevere, your journaling may become a transformational process, changing your Inner Critic into an Inner Coach.
Critic: You dope!
You: I am not.
You: I am not a dope.
Coach: No, that’s true. You are not.
You: (profound sigh of relief)
Then it’s a quick step to a much more friendly exchange.
Coach: Not too bad, dude!
You: It was okay.
Coach: No, you should be proud. That was great.
You: Yeah, I guess I am proud.
Coach: So what’s next on the agenda?
You: Well, I had this idea…
How does this change come about? Simply through dedicated examination of your relationship with the Critic. When it is sincerely recognized and thoroughly known, when your Inner Critic becomes your friend, it will finally become your true ally.
Critic vs. Coach is the same dichotomy as the little devil and angel that lurk above the hero’s shoulders in many a comedy. They personify the yin and yang of our days, and they are the opposites that make the world go ’round. These spirits guide our lives and we depend on a balance of their powers to survive.
This balance is of supreme importance. That’s why, if we’re feeling persecuted by an Inner Critic, we should recognize the disturbance as a call to restore balance.
Next time you are feeling browbeaten by your Critics, remember this maxim. The Critic’s nagging must be heard, soothed, valued, respected until it turns to praise, until the Critic morphs into a Coach.
You can do this. Your journal makes it possible.
About the Author – Mari L. McCarthy
Mari L. McCarthy – The Journaling Therapy Specialist, founder of Journaling for the Health of It? Mari offers counseling and encouragement to writers through her many online journaling resources as well as private consultations. Please see http://www.createwritenow.com/journaling/ for further information. Mari’s latest publication is titled, Get A Job! Journal Your Way to Your Most Rewarding Career. Go to http://www.createwritenow.com/jobs-journaling-ebook/ for details.