Today I woke up with the inner critic whispering in my ear. I wondered, should I give up this weekly writing practice? How useful is this really, why bother? Indeed, why bother? The inner critic is the nagging little voice that resides in all of us and urges us to put aside our dreams and live the easy life. In that moment I had a flash of the story of Jesus during his 40 days in the desert. The devil his constant companion coaxing him to give up and take his offerings.
I’m not claiming a divine persona, but it does go to show that we are all subject to questioning our journey. Does it hold the meaning and importance we think it does? Throughout our chosen path a dozen different distractions can surface. Even if we successfully ignore the siren call of technology – email, texts and social media, others often arise. Distractions, doubts and yes, even despair can have us second guessing whether it is worth continuing. In his book “The War of Art“, author Steven Pressfield calls it out as Resistance.
Currently I have piles of books in front of me. Reorganizing the shelves and reducing the number of books seems an important and immediate chore to undertake. Upon walking into the kitchen, the pantry cupboard pulls at me to sort and clean it. And then, as always, my desk. Everywhere I look, something other than writing calls my attention. Following distractions are allowing doubt to win, even if only temporarily. More than that, acting on the prompts of the inner critic means I can ignore the uncomfortable whispers. The lure to rid discomfort with action is a common inner critic tactic.
I have to admit the pantry is partly done. For a short period the inner critic was winning. I was doubting my writing by judging it with a measuring stick never meant for the task. My weekly blog has never been about making money, but rather to honor a talent that I had pushed down and retreated from. It was having the courage to bring it to the world. It is a starting point, not an ending point.
The inner critic is very crafty at whispering unkind and cruel comments. It is also good at discounting personal success and how our work benefits others. Finding the means to meet and beat the inner critic is an ongoing battle. Be it athlete, scholar, craftsman or artist, our work only improves by the doing of it, day in and day out. As we do, we will continue finding new challenges to meet and ways to grow, change and learn. All the things the inner critic fights hardest against. So, the next time you are beset by doubt, feel discouraged and tempted by distraction, remember that this is the very time to push on. As Thomas Edison said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”