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What if the boogie man is a woman. And it's me.

When I was little, I couldn’t fall asleep without checking under my bed to see if monsters were lurking there.

Well, these days I’m convinced that there’s nothing scarier than the ever-present, always-judging voice that lives inside me.

I call her Edna.

As Resident Inner Critic, it’s her job to point out every one of my flaws. And believe me, she’s damn good at her job.

It’s Edna who diligently reports on my every blemish, wrinkle, lump of cellulite and strand of grey. (Thanks, Edna.)

Oh, and those days, when I try on five different outfits and don’t feel good in any of them? That’s Edna for you.

Although physical flaws are her specialty, Edna’s belittling, scrutinizing handiwork extends into all areas of my life.

If I throw a fabulous dinner party, she tells me that so-and-so would have baked a flourless chocolate cake from scratch.

If Planet Blue reorders my cards for the third time, she wonders why they didn’t order more.

And even with all the wonderful comments and subscriptions I got on my Bloggess this week, Edna told me no one really gives a !!#@$%# about it.

Edna’s got a voracious appetite for insecurities.  And thrives on fear.

So, you can imagine what a field day she had when I lost my big Execu-woman job a few back.She tortured me endlessly about getting “a real job” instead of chasing a dream.

Ignoring her just plain doesn’t work. She’ll keep on picking at that hangnail of self-doubt until it bleeds.

So, here’s a little exercise I’ve learned that calms Edna down and liberates me from her critical wrath:

Like all of us, Edna just wants to be heard. So, sometimes I’ll take out a pen and paper and just let her rip.

Uncensored, I give Edna the time and space to go ballistic until she has nothing left to criticize, scrutinize or minimize. (Kinda like sending your two year old to his room to cry out that big fat tantrum.)

Then,I give Edna a new job: Project Manager. I put her shrewd, critical mind in charge of my deadlines.

And if that doesn’t work, I  just zap her with my imaginary remote control and put her on Mute for a while. (She’s much more supportive after that.)

So, what about you?

Who’s your Inner Critic? And do you have any tips for dealing with her?

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20 comments to What if the boogieman is a woman. And it’s me?

  • Fantastic…..I am dreaming up a name for my lovely mistress of destruction as I write!

    Bless you for this blog…..and for Julia Stonesreet Smith who brought me here!

    We will be back…wearing our name tags, so as to distinguish once and for all who is who in that inner space I call MY mind!

  • Muchos Gracias for your blog post.Really looking forward to read more. Will read on…

  • As you know, the name of my inner critic is Bob. You can see him in the movie “What about Bob” starring Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss. His torment of me centers around “What if, if I had just, etc. I have several ways of dealing with him. The best one that seems to work most of the time is simply sitting next to my tropical pond and feeding my kois. I take a deep breath and remember I am just a small cog in a gigantic machine and if I know in my heart I have done my best I know I will do better tomorrow. Thank God for tomorrow.

  • Great post. It really has me thinking about my own inner critic. I’m not sure of her name. I just know that she comes with a heavy load of anxiety that I am sooo not interested in keeping going. Thanks for writing about this. It gives me good juice for my morning pages.

    • Thanks, Meri…Oh yeah, I could go on and on about this subject…although I must admit that through sharing stories of Edna and
      bringing her paralyzing criticism into the light, her voice is getting softer and softer. The voice of my heart is much more dominant now.
      But trying new stuff (like this blog), as you know brought up a lot of fear and self-flagellation.

  • My inner critic, Iggy, opens ‘his’ mouth (I’m there with Krikit) I find that Ellie, my inner cheerleader, is pretty quick to shut him up. Every now and then, however, they get into a shouting match. Whenever I have this dilemma I take Granny’s advice and listen to the little bird in my chest and do what I need to do to make birdie dear calm. That always shuts Iggy up and leaves Ellie humming – and me, too!

    But I like your idea of writing it down, Wendi. There is such power in that!

  • Julie Mayer

    My best advice for dealing with an “inner critic” is to understand the thought pattern for what it is-habitual thoughts or events in your field of consciousness. Sometimes it plays out like a loop or movie inside of the mind. Realize when it happens that these are just thoughts, nothing more. They come and they go. Best to bring awareness to whatever you are doing in the present moment by focusing on your breath, even if it’s just for a moment or two. Notice the shift. Maybe the boogeyman will go away for a little while.

  • sandy nakamura

    Is it really a bad idea or do I just want to be talked out of it? I need a litmus test.

  • Krikit

    Wendi,
    Wednesday in my Humanities class we had an impromptu assignment. Take a learning negative and positive, and create a Cinquain poetry for each (http://hrsbstaff.ednet.ns.ca/davidc/6c_files/Poem%20pics/cinquaindescrip.htm).

    My bane in school has always been TESTS. At the mention of the word I immediately thought of my ‘Edna,’ “Mike.” (He’s partnered every test I’ve ever taken!) Here’s my negative poem:

    TESTS
    Scary, frightful
    Screaming, grabbing, biting
    I’m going to die
    Failure

    And here’s my positive poem (when I thrashed Mikey and told him just where to go!):

    ATTITUDE
    Excited! Upbeat
    Deciding, creating, studying
    I can do it!
    Believe!

    Maybe Edna needs her own Cinquain? ~:)

  • Great post!

    My Inner Critic is Toxic because she can be a toxic little thing. When she has a hissy fit I just put her in the back seat with at blankie and a sippy cup. She can come along for the ride. She can no longer drive the car.

    Love and laughter,
    valery

  • Krikit

    Wendi,
    Until I read your musings on FB, I never really thought about whether or not my inner critic has a name. But I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

    It might seem odd, me being a girl and all, but ‘his’ name is Mike. He’s the personification of the bully that miserated (a Krikit word) my existence through my entire 5th & 6th grade life.

    Because he’s ‘my’ inner critic, I get to call him “Mikey.” Doing so reduces him in size and stature, making it easier for me to take back my control when he’s doing his best bully thing.

    I try and remember Mikey is not a nice guy. Nobody likes him. So, why should I take anything he has to say seriously?

  • Is Edna a morning person? Or a midnight rambling stump your toe howler?

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