Meet the Inner Critic

Inner Critic outing

My inner critic is a she-voice in my head, telling me that I (of all people!) can’t create what I want to create! She encourages me to be lazy and helps me think bad thoughts about myself, my life and my creative work. Mostly she likes to stand in the way of success and mocks me when I fail. Actually, her favorite thing to do is to remind me that I will never be a successful person and that I fail more often than not.

I learned of her presence a few years ago when Tine Wiggens of Studio Friday talked about sending her IC (inner critic) on holiday to get some work done. I too wish it would be that simple, but such a creature is a part of yourself and it is always so very difficult to get away from yourself! Most people would pay good money to never hear that voice again but no matter how many affirmations we say about our own greatness your own IC will come back and let you know: You suck! You should give up, you will never know what you want with your life anyway…

I detest that voice. Some call it gremlin. To me it’s a little monster with lots of black fur and eyes that can see through any darkness and find me, wherever I try to hide. She lives in my shadow and is never far away from me. The air she breathes is fear and self loathing, and she makes the happy dance whenever I cry or roll under a blanket to “rest”.

Inner Critic says Boo!

She often tells me how silly it is to appreciate toys, rainbows, twinkling pink lights, gingerbread houses and silly doodles. She wants me to grow up and stop playing, and I work hard to resist her demands.

When I was reading Diana Trout’s book I tried to imagine my Inner Critique (the IC) and how it would look visually, but it was hard.

I imagined her looking like me but more strict, slick and in an office suit. She was the grown up that couldn’t accept my inner child. She would, like an old school teacher, rise her finger at me and telling me to be a smart girl and stop dreaming.

I thought the IC would be a picture of me, because it is such a strong voice in me. But that did not work and I couldn’t draw the IC that way. Because I couldn’t step away from myself, and I am a grown up (who has come to appreciate office clothes; I started to dress in skirt, pantyhose and shirt last year) – sometimes looking more grown up than I feel. Was I then becoming the Inner Critic (or an image of her) or walking her errands? Can you turn into the Inner Critic you want to avoid? Now I know that the inner critic does not look like me. She may talk with my voice and use my fear for dinner, but she does not look like me at all.

My Inner Critic is a little monster living inside of me. She is the weak part of me that I can never loose, but I will stop listening to. I need to accept her. We all have some kind of creature like this living in our head/body. Some people work with it, some fight against it. Some people don’t listen and maybe they’re not even aware of the voice and that is probably a good thing. It must be nice to go about your business not hearing that voice. Some people start to accept what the IC is saying as the truth, and then they stop trying all together, and that’s the worst part!

I hear mine loud and clear. Often enough I listen, but I try not to! She questions all my decisions and sometimes affect them more than I wish for. She tells me to stay in bed, to stay still, to shut up, to procrastinate my Big Projects and to stop Dreaming. Every day she tells me:

You can’t write Hanna. You can’t even sit down to start, if you do you become to tired to write! You don’t make enough money, and you don’t even know how. You never have and you never will. You should be doing X but instead you are not doing anything productive. You are such a lazy person. There is something wrong with you.

My inner critic is called Icki, short for Icki-banna. And now that I made her into a paper doll, at least I can (symbolically) tell her to leave the room and let me work. I can put her under the table if I want to. Make your own as a paper doll!

Have you met your IC yet? How do you deal with her/him?

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16 Responses to Meet the Inner Critic

  1. Renathe says:

    We have to learn to live with those tiny monsters.
    I got this poster on my wall as a reminder.

  2. madde says:

    I’ve met mine to & I don’t like her at all. (well sometimes it can be kind of good to listen to a critic, at least for a little while, it kind of makes me do better at times) I often manage to ignore the critic – I’ll wear what I want in wich colour I like. I will paint my fingernails in any colour and I will continue to do odd jobs, strange jobs and volounter jobs if i like cause I’m having fun and it feels good. If I feels good everthing around me gets better and so on. The wings of a butterfly….<3

  3. kemp kemper says:

    You have a successful blog and fans all over the world, like me and would you be the person your IC suggests you ought to be…the blog would be a desert.

    I have my own IC and at times it is hard to keep the lid firmly on the pot I’ve put her in, especially during times of great vulnerability…however over the years I firmly established what makes me happy and brings me joy…keeping these moments in my mind and looking at things that remind me of positive feelings and moments I had I know I only temporarily allow my IC to shake my inner child’s foundation.

  4. deSales says:

    When I was looking for an image of my IC, I was expecting to find a monster, but the image that felt right was that of a little girl.
    Now I know it’s the girl I had to be in school.

    ‘Don’t make mistakes, don’t do this, don’t do that, don’t waste paper, don’t be silly, it’s not good enough, you can’t do this’ .
    Everything my teachers ever told me, she now tells me.

    But instead of fighting her, I learned to let her play with me.
    It has made such a big difference!


  5. diana trout says:

    Oh my! I LOVE Icky. What a great example of getting out of that box and picturing your inner critic, Hanna. We should all make inner critic dolls!

  6. uršula says:

    My IC has this unpleasant habit saying to me from time to time: “All u make is Rubbish. Stop fooling urself!” I wouldn’t know how to draw it, but it must be something nasty and disgusting.

  7. Mary says:

    Hi Hanna…my inner critic has been visiting me the past few weeks. Like an unwelcome guest, I think he’s finally going :) I have to say, I think that Icky is kinda cute!
    Thanks for the information about Orly’s book and the other books.

  8. Pingback: How to make a Inner Critic Paper Doll | iHanna's Blog

  9. Sami Serola says:

    Very inspiring post iHanna :) My IC is a well known character, who himself uses name eoR

    This is because I have born in the year of a horse in Chinese astrology. And since all creatures usually have their alter ego, then there is no better one than donkey for a horse.

  10. Great post, Hanna! The inner critic is so tricky, it’s good to call him (or her) out. Mine has an authoritative man’s voice and tells half-truths. So part of what he says is true, but I have to dig out the part that isn’t!

  11. I begin each semester of cartooning I teach by having the kids visualize and draw their inner critics but I never thought of making them into paper dolls! What a fun idea! (And oddly, I’ve never drawn my own inner critic so I’d have to give it some thought as to what it looks like!) Icky looks a little shocked to have been drawn out into the light of day! As always, a fun, inspiring post!

  12. such a wonderful interpretation of that ‘inner critic’… we all know the critic (too well sometimes, i’m afraid!) :-)
    i love how the hands move so we can see those eyes. Great! xoxo

  13. pam says:

    Brilliant post! LOVE the paper doll totally!

    If my own IC gets too rambunctious the best way I have found to banish her is to pull out supplies for making some of my favorite Christmas crafts. In a twinkling – gone!

  14. Pingback: The No Flow Feeling | iHanna's Blog

  15. Alisha says:

    I met mine a couple years ago. I was trying to wrap my head around how this little creature could live in me, and why on Earth she was so darned mean! I decided to knit a stuffed animal of her, to give me something to physically attach these feelings to, in hopes of “getting them out of me.” I ended up with the cutest little gargoyle you ever saw, immediately named her Gretle, and now I love her. I try to remind myself that she learned these mean things when we were very little, and she was never able to grow up out of them. So, when I hear her in my head, it’s like hearing those mean thoughts in a 4 year olds voice, and suddenly, they mean a whole lot less to me :)

    • iHanna says:

      Thanks for commenting and sharing your own inner critic story! I love gargoyles, so ugly and so beautiful at the same time (I have one in my book shelf from la Paris)…

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