Saturday, 26 December 2015

Perfectionism and the Inner Critic

How many of us I wonder have a beautiful bound unused notebook or journal hidden away in our cupboard. If we were to dig it out we would probably find it in pristine condition, perhaps even encased in its cellophane wrapper. Why has it remained unused? What has held us back from making our mark upon its blank pages? Maybe we simply haven’t found a use for the book yet or perhaps there is another deeper and more uncomfortable reason. If we are prepared to dig a little into our shadows what can this flawless, new, immaculate, book tell us about ourselves?

Over my lifetime I have acquired a number of such notebooks. Some I’ve been given as presents and a few I’ve purchased myself usually during moments when I’ve entertained the thought of writing a journal or creating a sketchbook. Sadly many of these books where banished to the dark recesses of a cupboard to only be rediscovered during a much needed declutter or a house move. At those moments I’ve then been faced with the dilemma to ditch or redeem the items. Usually the latter has prevailed when I succeeded in convincing myself that I do have a need for the books.

So if I feel a real need to use these books what is stopping me? I could probably come up with umpteen plausible reasons and to an extent all would hold an element of truth but if I’m truly honest the main reason is the F word. Yes you guessed it FEAR. My fear of making a mistake on the pristine, unblemished pages of each and every one of these books is holding me back from expressing all those ideas and creations I have spent hours contemplating. My inner critic, that annoying little F….. (yes that’s the other F word!) has stymied my creative being. Oh but that can’t be so I hear you say, what about all those drawings you do or poems you write? Well yes I do have a note book for my poems but I only write in it in pencil. In that way I can rub out any mistakes. For my sketchbooks I have a different approach. I have books and paper which I draw upon before editing and putting in my sketchbook proper.  

Whilst these approaches represented a quantum leap for me and got me out of my thinking head and into doing mode I would have to agree they are a little OCD. Yes my number of notebooks residing in the dark is diminishing but my negative inner critic is not. No this ever present and persistent voice from the shadows is most definitely still requiring a script rewrite. With this in mind I have decided to embark on a new approach. Inspired by Sandra Ingerman’s book How to Heal Toxic Thoughts my negative inner critic is about to find itself in the alchemist crucible where hopefully in time it might be transformed into a more encouraging and compassionate voice.  

Now in case you aren’t aware all good alchemists have a recipe book or some would call it a spell book or book of intentions. Well with no shortage of notebooks I am assigning a particularly beautiful red silk bound notebook with handmade paper pages to this task. It will become My Little Book of Intentions and Prays. I am under no illusion about the enormity of this transformation task. Rewriting fifty years of negative scripts isn’t going to be a walk in the park, for a start I have to write in my newly assigned book!  Dilemma number one - should I use pen or pencil? If I use pencil I can rub out any mistakes. Alternatively I could write on a piece of paper which I can stick in the book once it has passed my, as yet to be agreed, stringent criteria. Using this approach might avoid the need to tear out any pages. Yes my school exercise books were probably thinner than most, I wonder if my teachers noticed? Perhaps they thought I was a particularly diligent student who wrote a lot.

In case you are wondering, yes I have written in my book and yes it was directly onto the page and in pen. It wasn’t easy I admit but I managed and the book still has its full quota of pages!! Finally a wee poem for all you perfectionist out there, I know your problem oh so well but rest assured you too can tell your inner critic to shut the f… up; compassionately of course.


I cannot write
For fear this white
Unblemished page
I might just blight

Stories, poems, odes
All remain untold
Trapped within
This human hold

An exquisite red silk book
A pristine gift, a writer’s hook
My inner critic screams

A misspelt word, a blemish, a blot
Will never I’m told be forgot
Safer then
To forgo the lot

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE this! And from one perfectionist to another, I totally get this 😆!!
    Right I'm off to dig out a notebook or six 😂