In my last blog, I talked about the Critic in myself, the one who used to keep me from getting much writing done by convincing me that I was no good. I mentioned doing an exercise in a Psychosynthesis class that helped me put the Critic in his proper place. While I don't have that particular exercise, here is another that was helpful to me in the process of making peace with my Critic. If your Critic gives you trouble, try engaging with him or her using this exercise:
Confronting the Critic
Sit quietly, close your eyes, let your mind empty out, as much as possible.
Imagine entering a forest, which grows deeper and darker, until you come to the base of a mountain. In the brush, find a hidden door. When you've found it, open it and enter the dimly lit passage on the other side. The passage slants downward, gradually taking you deeper and deeper into the earth below the mountain.
At the bottom of the passageway, you come upon another door. Open the door and enter a long, book-lined hallway. At the end of this hallway is another door. When you open the door, you find on the other side your dream study. (Even if your dream study has high windows, lots of sunlight, a view of the ocean, or whatever, that is what you experience here—this is a magical place.)
On your dream desk sits smooth, creamy paper and a beautiful, perfectly balanced pen. Sit down at the desk and pick up the pen, feeling comfortable and purposeful—like you truly belong there.
Then you hear someone clear his throat and turn to see…the Critic—the one who always makes you feel unconfident and prevents you from writing as much as you'd like. Take him in. Notice his physical characteristics, his posture, his gestures, the look in his eye.
Does he say anything? If he does, take it in.
Do you want to say anything to him? If so, say it.
When you're done with him, look back at your beautiful piece of paper and, in spite of the Critic, write slowly and smoothly and gracefully the words: "I love to write." Look at those words and enjoy them.
Set the pen down, put your hands in your lap, close your eyes, and savor all of the ways you've loved words in your life: in stories you read or had read to you as a child, in a diary, in letters to people you love, in novels, poems, essays. Just sit and enjoy your memories of what words have meant to you.
When you've finished doing this, notice a large, black cloth, the size of a blanket, lying on the floor. Stand up, pick it up, take it to the Critic, and throw it over him, covering him completely. Now, walk out of the study, down the book-lined hall, through the door, up the long, slanted passageway, and out into the forest (which is no longer dim, but green and bright). Walk through the forest and emerge in the bright white light of the sun. Savor the warmth and brightness of the sun for a moment.
When you're ready, bring yourself slowly back from this place and into the present moment. When it feels right, take out your journal or a piece of paper or sit down at your computer, and record what happened on this journey.
I think you'll find that this exercise—which you can certainly do more than once—will help you keep the Critic under control.