Our internal critic can bring us to excellence or paralyze us in procrastination. Recently, my critic did both. I wrote and performed two comedy talk shows in March. The first performance was a gas! I was in the zone. At the end the audience gave me a standing ovation. The following week the theater was also packed. As the result of being overextended and technical problems, I had trouble getting into the zone on stage and it affected my performance. Although the audience gave me another standing ovation, I wasn’t happy with the show. For two days afterward my critic went to town. “You screwed it up,” it said. “You should have gotten centered.” On and on it criticized me. Following are some of the ways that I handled my critic. Hopefully some of them will help you next time your critic attacks you.
1. KNOW THE CRITIC IS ONLY TRYING TO HELP, BUT THAT DOESN’T MAKE IT RIGHT. Just because my critic only focused on what went wrong doesn’t mean everything went wrong. Lots of things went right on the night of the show.
The Critic always forgets the good things that happened. I’d gotten a standing ovation and all it could do was harp on me about was what had gone wrong.
2. LISTEN TO YOUR CRITIC. Your Critic in trying to help. By listening but not believing everything it says, I was able to let go of the shame and embarrassment I felt. Listening will also help me to avoid making the same mistakes twice.
3. WHEN THE CRITIC WON’T SHUT-UP, FLIP-SWITCH TO APPRECIATION. Every time the Critic made me feel bad, I practiced shifting my energy. How? By thinking about what I appreciated about the night until I felt better. The mind can’t hold two thoughts at the same time, so when a critical voice came in, I switched by simply saying nice things to myself.
4. TALK ABOUT OTHERS. Instead of letting my Critic override me, I talked to the people who’d helped me put on the show. Together, we focused on what we might do differently in the future.I also shared my disappointment with creative buddies that I knew would not “judge me”, or “give me advice”.
5. RADICAL SELF-CARE. I ate right, took walks, went to yoga, sang songs and went on with my life. I also practiced gentle self talk.