I Want to Murder My Inner Critic

dial_m_for_murderI had all kinds of ideas for my post today. An interview with my inner critic. Five ways to beat the inner-critic blues. Inner-critic schizophrenia. I coulda had some fun with this topic.

But I have to be true to the reality of my life. And life got in the way yesterday. I found out that my beloved Luna the One-Eyed Wonder Dog has malignant, aggressive oral cancer. I’m devastated. Crushed. Unglued. She’s had a tough doggy life, and she doesn’t deserve more pain or fear. She’s my little rescue pup, and I’m lucky I found her.

Back to the inner critic: I’m not buying into any optimistic takes on the inner critic. Inner critics don’t deserve to inhabit our heads. Everything that we do that aligns with our best selves comes from the parts of us that are passionate, competent, responsible, compassionate, caring, and so on. The inner critic’s only goal is to make us miserable.

Luna with Bone optAnd here’s a prime example: What did my inner critic say when I found out Luna’s diagnosis? It reminded me of my weak moments, when I wished I didn’t have a dog or hoped that Luna wouldn’t live to be 18 years old. Because, yes, owning a dog can be trying, and it definitely does — if you’re a good dog owner like I am who also happens to be single — impact your every day freedoms.

My inner critic went on to say: “Well, you got your wish. You won’t be ‘saddled’ with Luna for too much longer.” It went so far as to tell me that my very thoughts had caused her cancer. There’s a part of me that listens to the damned inner critic, that gets sucked in. Could this be true? And therein lies the deep, dark abyss that could lead to months of self-recrimination and guilt.

The inner critic is great at twisting the mantras we grew up with and using them against us. I grew up in a New Agey household. Even so, hand it to the inner critic to take what were meant to be positivistic mantras and warp them out of all proportion. Mantras likes, As you think, so you manifest. Or, Your thoughts are powerful. It’s insidious and irrational, yet here I am, feeling horrible because maybe I caused Luna’s cancer with my thoughts!

I want to murder my inner critic. It’s a waste of space in my head. No redeeming qualities whatsoever.

But I can’t. So what to do? I honestly don’t know. This weekend I plan to write a short story in honor of the Halloween season. Maybe I’ll murder a character. That might help. (All this said, you can probably imagine what my writing life is like at times!)

How harsh does your inner critic get and what do you do about it? Any advice appreciated!

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Lisa Alber is the author of KILMOON, A COUNTY CLARE MYSTERY (March 2014). Ever distractible, you may find her staring out windows, dog walking, fooling around online, or drinking red wine with her friends. Ireland, books, animals, photography, and blogging at Lisa Alber's Words at Play round out her distractions. Visit her at www.lisaalber.com.

11 thoughts on “I Want to Murder My Inner Critic

  1. I’m so sorry to hear about Luna’s bad news. Though really it’s your bad news. She probably has no idea. Sometimes I envy dogs.

    If you figure out how to murder your inner critic, will you please let me know? I’d like to off mine as well.

  2. So sorry to hear about Luna. I love dogs (and my own, of course) so much.

    Lucky for us mystery writers, we get to take our vengeance to the page.

  3. Luna is lucky to have had you to love her, and she knows it. Your inner critic has morphed into a guilt monster – slay it with love. Remind yourself of every wonderful moment you’ve had with your doggy, and that you have given her love and food and medical care and attention and all of the wonderful things. You were universal gifts to each other. Also – I’m so, so sorry.

  4. If that inner critic / voice were a friend we would’ve fired said friend long ago. You, I am certain have given Luna many comforts and fun times in her life with you, hang on to those thoughts and banish the others to a slow burning cauldron with all those other negative thoughts. See you soon.

  5. I agree with Kerry—guilt can be an ugly monster, even if it’s unfounded. Luna is so lucky to have you loving and caring for her. Sure, thoughts can be powerful, but to me what really counts is our actions. And I know you’ll do whatever you can for her and have already done so much by rescuing her and giving her a happy life.

  6. Trying again — thanks so much for your support!

    Susan, you betcha — I’ll let you know if I find a murderous solution. 🙂
    Lori, murdering characters is righteously cathartic that’s for sure!
    Kerry, I like that. I’ll try the love.
    Meco, seriously … I’d never have a friend like that! It’s just nuts.
    Natalia, actions mean more, for sure — just wish the inner critic wasn’t so loud!

  7. I do this too. Somehow, I find ways to blame myself for everything bad that’s ever happened to me or anyone in the vicinity of me. Since the causality is not always apparent, I often have to dig deep into all those old hurts, pains and disappointments. It’s when I pause in the digging, look around and realize, oh, shit, here I am down in that hole again, that I achieve enough awareness to put down the shovel. But then, damn, I’m down in a hole! Stupid hole. Then I get angry at my higher power, which is handy to have because then you can share the blame. After processing the despair, guilt and blame, a tiny little voice reminds me that a while back I dedicated myself to choosing health and valuing me as I am today. I spend less and less time in the hole these days, but it takes a relentless devotion to making the most of life.

  8. Ah, Christina — there’s a lot of wisdom there. What gets me is that I seem to LIKE digging myself in the hole — or rather, letting the inner critic lead me there. Am I a total masochist? I don’t think so, but still. “relentless devotion” — oh man. That’s a lot of energy right there.

  9. Oh no! I’m so so sorry, Lisa. 🙁 I hope it goes as easy as possible for Luna. In terms of your guilt, it’s similar to what every mom feels when her child isn’t doing in well in school, or she gets hurt because you didn’t do XYZ, or she’s depressed because of XXX. It’s tough. We love them so much that we forget that bad shit happens sometimes and it’s out of our control. Hang in there! Sending you much love. (And yes, murder that critic in your head!)

  10. Oh God, Heather, I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a Mom. I’d be torturing myself all the time for every little thing! We do love them (pet, children, all) so much…Thanks for the thoughts. Hope you’re have a great weekend!

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