The voice inside my head

It’s been hard getting back into blogging after a month of daily writing. I think I pushed myself a little too hard last month. There were days that I found myself easing into sleep as I lay with my kids, hoping to put them to bed. A sudden panic would wake me, ‘damn, I need to write today otherwise I’ll be behind!’ I’d get up and stumble downstairs to my computer. The words were never easy and they rarely made sense but I wrote them down – my small victory.

I’ve a small challenge at work. I call it ‘small’ because it’s actually nothing in the grand scheme of things, especially when I compare it to last month’s writing! I am not a patient person but I’m learning to be. The work I’m doing is new and exciting. But I feel out of my depth at times and much like when I was writing my novel, I have had to find ways to quiet or ignore the critical voice in my head. I know now that the voice is ME. It asks me stupid questions like ‘Who cares about what you are doing?’ and ‘What makes you think you’ll succeed?’ Ignoring my inner voice is a strange but necessary skill that I am cultivating. Sometimes, I feel that I’m betraying that voice. Isn’t it the same voice that whispered wonderful stories and made me write? Isn’t it that voice that cheered me on when the world seemed to be against me? I am torn.

The secret appears to be in the art of filtering. That is, taking the stuff that exalts you and leaving the ugly stuff behind. I have come to think about it as ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ rule. Take the good, learn from the bad (as no one is perfect) and ignore the ugly.

How do you ignore the critical voice in your head? How do you balance that with the voice that keeps you going when everything else stands in your way? I am convinced that the same things that strengthen me have the power to tear me to pieces…

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Comments

  1. Hello fellow nanowrimoer! Wow, last month as crazy and I am right there with you. I like what you said about that nagging inner critic. Mine gets on my nerves so bad sometimes and being both a writer and a therapist, I hear it all the time, even when I think I know how to get rid of it. I really like your insight and I think I’ll try your filtering technique. You should always challenge that inner critic and never take what she says as truth, otherwise it will tear you apart. Trust me, I’m fighting mine daily 🙂 Thanks for an awesome post.

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  2. Good insight, I think – that last statement about the same things that strengthen us can tear us to pieces. And yeah, sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between the voices that hold you back and the ones that urge you forward.

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  3. I call that critical voice in my head “the evil hamsters.” While the other hamsters are in their wheels, scurrying about and being productive and happy, the evil ones are throwing barbs my way. I’ve found that if I throw popcorn at them, they fill their cheeks and I can’t hear them anymore. 🙂

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  4. You know where those critical voices in your head come from. You logically know that ultimately they all come from you. Step outside yourself and look at what you’ve accomplished this past month…and year. What would you tell yourself? I doubt you would be critical. You would probably be impressed and inspired!

    Think of all those cheesy movies you’ve seen where the main character is looking at herself in the mirror telling herself “You can do it!” It works every time. Even if you whisper it…look yourself in the eye and tell yourself you can.

    My favorite inspirational quote (you might be able to help with who said it)
    “What would you do if you were guaranteed you would not fail?”

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  5. Over time I’ve experimented a lot with those critical voices. Blocking or ignoring them certainly didn’t help, that made them only shout louder, and at the most inappropriate times. What works best for me is to keep them busy, to give them something to play with or to chew on.

    That thinking part of our brain can deal with (if I remember right) only 40 impulses per second. It switches off either when it’s bored with the activity or when it’s got too much to do. I keep it busy by either focussing on – and constantly returning to – the task at hand (for instance concentrate on the act of writing instead of what I write) or by boring it with nothingness and bland repetition (for instance focussing on sensual awareness when washing the dishes, again and again). Like with all meditation, results come with practice.

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  6. Some good points in the comments here, and I understand why you have self-doubt. We all do.
    But no matter which way you look at it we all also have had successes and those moments of triumph are greater than the failures. I reflect on those to keep the doubts at bay, and the thought that if I don’t at least try to stretch myself then I can only count myselfamongst those who would prefer their status quo than to LIVE a life.
    If the work problem is a challenge don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’d be surprised how people will be pleased to help if you are humble enough to ask. It doesn’t mean showing yourself to be lacking….just human. Coming across things we haven’t done before is how we learn, right? Good luck with it.

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  7. Oddly enough, my inner critic didn’t pop up during NaNoWriMo. I really thought it would, but I guess having the first rule of NaNo being to gag the inner critic was one that I really took to heart. Now that NaNo is over, I’m hearing that voice again. I need to have NaNo rule the other eleven months of my life (without all the exhaustion and compulsiveness that comes with NaNo). I have to be able to give myself permission to gag the critic and just have fun with everything I’m doing. Not user how I’m going to do that, though. Maybe I’ll come up with the picture of a face with duct tape across the mouth and then hang it up in my office where I can see it. LOL

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