If you write, there’s one person you’re going to make friends with along with everyone else: Your inner critic. The angry little man in your head that hates on everything you do. You know who I’m talking about. I’ve been trying to make peace with that guy my entire life.
Now your inner critic comes in many flavors. Maybe they sound like your mom, your dad, or a teacher. My inner critic is an Angry Little Man, and he sounds like the Teeny Little Super Guy from Sesame Street. In fact, he’s such a persistent part of my life that I made him a character in Mesh. Let Roman learn to deal with him!
Inner critics are brilliant at validating all your fears and insecurities. They are artists at cancelling out any type of positivity, exploiting every weakness. Inner critics are masters at making everything you think, say, or do sound as negative as possible.
The reason I’m talking about the Angry Little Man is this: We all have one. It’s okay to have him there. A lot of people live with an inner critic, and managing him is a life skill unto itself.
What Does Your Inner Critic Tell You?
One of the best ways I’ve found to address the Angry Little Man is to write down what he says. I’ve compiled a list below of things I’ve heard from my Inner Critic. After that, we’ll talk about how to address your inner critic. If this guy is going to live in our heads, we should be able to keep him from making a mess of the place. Here we go:
My Angry Little Man tells me:
- You deserve to be miserable
- People don’t love the real you
- Everyone else is happier than you
- All of your friends (the ones who don’t love the real you) are more successful
- Admitting your limitations makes you weak
- You’ll be happy when …
- … you weigh [your ideal weight]
- … you drive a [your favorite car]
- … you am in a relationship with [your crush]
- … you have [$x] in the bank
And for me personally, the Jackson-related Angry Little Man says:
- You won’t be happy until …
- … you sign that big agent deal
- …. MESH gets published
- … MESH sells [x] copies
- … MESH gets a movie deal
Keeping the Angry Little Man in His Place
I’ve spent years trying to outrun my inner critic. If his voice is at 7, I’d turn up the volume of my life to 11 and drown him out! That strategy doesn’t work: you can’t maintain that kind of emotional ‘noise’ on a long-term basis. Instead, I had to learn how to make peace with the Angry Little Man. Here are some strategies that people find to be helpful:
Talk to the Angry Little Man – Your inner critic is usually shouting because they don’t feel heard. Explore your own feelings. Talk to your inner critic. What are they trying to say?
Take the Fight to your Inner Critic – Some people conquer the Angry Little Man by arguing back. I don’t advocate this strategy myself, but some people find it refreshing.
We’re All In This Together
That’s not a cliché: I put my Angry Little Man in Mesh for a couple of reasons:
- I wanted kids to know that he exists, and that it’s okay to have some feelings about him.
- I’m learning to live with him by putting him to work – “Okay, tough guy? How would YOU fix Mesh?” – He’s come up with some interesting suggestions.
In summary: It’s okay to have an inner critic. It’s alright to feel angry or sad that you have to deal with him on top of everything else going on in your life. Your inner critic is here to stay. He won’t leave, so learn to live with him. You don’t have to fight or argue or run from him on your own.