I’ve envisioned that my inner critic lives in an undecorated basement suite in the bottom of my mind. He is constantly on edge, moody and wields a knife. He reminds me of Derek from the Good Place: an unfinished algorithm, wildly unpredictable, humorously over-devoted. He’s my ego, constantly protective and over-reacting.
Moments will arise where I sense my inner critic lunging at me, and I’ll visualize a scene in that poorly-lit, unrenovated basement suite. A rectangular dining room table is between us. Usually, he’s stabbing his knife into the table and yelling about something.
“Okay, alright, I hear you,” I’ll say. “It sounds like you really care about…” and I’ll fill in the blanks.
“Yes!” he’ll say, and slump into the chair, a little more open to dialogue.
And we’ll have a made-up conversation about the grievance he’s advocating for. I’ll let him know I hear him, I’ll avoid stating that his claims are absurd — I’ll hear him out, and ask clarifying questions.
This elaborate scheme with the basement suite, that’s new this week. (Some people visualize an oompa band, I have a knife-wielding maniac)
I concocted the visualization trying to bring to life some advise from my counsellor.
“Get to know your inner critic,” he said. “Get curious, instead of judgemental, what he’s trying to say. Ask, ‘What do you have to say to us?'”
So I’ve been trying that. We’ll talk. I’ll ask him to put the knife down. I hear his demands and say, “I’ll see what I can do.”
Usually, my inner critic has a half-decent point, he’s just being an unrestrained jerk about it.
But making his acquaintance? I think it’s helping both of us.