Hi. My name is Emily Maher and I work too hard, think too much and eventually burn myself out.
During the past few weeks (as I’ve been contemplating writer’s block and perfectionism) my inner critic, very appropriately gave me a body slam.
It was one of those moments that we all come to when writing a book, where we’ve come a certain distance, and suddenly the mind goes dark. If I turned on the thinking, it was only terrible horrible thoughts. My incredible, invincible “Why” had wilted into “Why bother?”
However this was actually a wonderful opportunity, it taught me never to underestimate the inner critic.
There was no reasoning with this monster. I’ve affectionately named my inner critic “Never Never” because she pops up in every aspect of my life with some version of the same old line, “That dream you’re working on is never going to happen.” Often I can recognize her and call her out (because I must admit, she’s “never” been right).
But in this instance “Never Never” permeated everything. The nevers stretched for miles, drowning out any other word. I was sunk. There was no convincing myself otherwise, and I know we’ve all been there.
In my case, I needed to have that experience again in order to remember that the inner critic is not a voice, it’s a state.
Alan Cohen, author and teacher on A Course in Miracles, said, “If you gave your inner genius as much credence as your inner critic, you would be light years ahead of where you now stand.”
It comes down to a simple habit of choosing your inner genius over your inner critic. Choosing the soul over the ego.
For me, this has never been a battle between thoughts. It’s never been a battle between “I’m good enough,” versus, “I’m not good enough.” It’s been a battle between states.
When my inner critic (or my ego) takes over, there are no opportunities, nothing makes sense, and I don’t know what to do. When I move into my authentic self, I’m excited just to be here. Possibilities light up and I want to experiment and learn. Simply tipping the scales in the direction of my inner genius has created so much momentum.
At the same time, as I’ve evolved as a writer and a coach, I’ve also evolved the ways in which I connect with my inner genius (soul). Furthermore, because my inner critic was particularly mean in this last round of battles, I have a new list of insights to pull myself back in a state of connection and inspiration.
1. Say Its Name
The first step is and always will be admitting you have a problem. Many people never write their books because they assume their critic is the truth. My first defense is to objectify it. Realize that negative voice in my head always says the same things. It’s not right, in fact its not even creative. It hasn’t changed its tune in all these years. If you want to go deeper into this check out free course Chakra Writing Lab: Find Your Voice and Finish Your Book.
2. Change Your State
In my mastermind I talk a lot about doing something to change your state. Maybe it’s a workout, maybe its baking, driving or yoga. This coaxes you back into your comfort zone, and then casually slipping that notebook back in on the side. However in my latest battle with the inner critic, I have to say nothing worked accept quieting the mind. If you’re curious about meditation, I go deep into my own journey of discovery in a Facebook Live: The 4 Stages of Meditation for Soulful Creativity.
3. Stay Alert for Inspiration
Once you’re stepped to the side of that beast, stay alert on a feeling level. What inspires you? Keep an eye out for even the slightest step that makes you want to move forward. However, don’t push. In my experience, if I don’t coax myself out of a negative state with pleasure, I just run into the same wall. Ask yourself, “What sounds good?” Going to a coffee shop and reflecting? Taking a long walk? And slowly nurture your way back to the page.
I hope this has been helpful, because at the end of the day, your voice is so important. There are plenty of people bogged down by drudgery and criticism. When we fall into that state, it spreads. However, whenever we create a personal space of hope and inspiration, we invite others into that state as well. Let’s spread that.