The Inner Critic—everyone is familiar with it. It’s the voice that silences you. It undermines your confidence in facing the blank page, and speaks to your doubts and the part of you that fears writing your stories down, expressing yourself, having your full voice. The clever critical voice can be nasty, telling you such things as:
- Your story doesn’t matter.
- Your life is not that interesting.
- No one would care about my little stories.
- My family will be mad if I write this.
- How do I know what I’m writing is a real memory?
- My writing is so bad.
- No one will want to read this.
- How do I know what the truth is?
- I’m not a real writer.
Make a list of what the critic says. Allow this inner voice to speak freely, keeping your pen and paper nearby. The more you know about what the critic says that stops you from writing, the more you will be able to counteract its effect.
Affirmations are positive thoughts and feelings that counter the doubts and negative voices in our heads. Affirmations are a positive, healing, and comforting way of bringing balance into our minds and hearts.
The following affirmations will help to counteract the negative voices of the inner critic. Once you understand how an affirmation works as a counteractive voice, you can create your own specific affirmations that balance the specific voices of your own inner critic.
Enter your safe place of relaxation, knowing that you bring with you the burden of your inner critic. Feel this burden on your shoulders and all the places in your body where you are tense with the fears and worries your critic brings.
Rest into your safe place in a relaxed position. Allow each voice to come to your consciousness, holding it while you repeat to yourself, “I have a right to write my story. My voice matters. What I think and feel is important.”
Such self-affirming comments help balance out the minimization that occurs with the critic-censor.
Repeat each affirmation three times while you bring the golden light into your body, noticing places where you are tense and tight, where you feel any kind of block. Ask your muscles to relax to let go of the critic’s power over you. Repeat, “My muscles are warm and heavy, and I am letting go of the critic voice. I am creating new affirmations to use each time I feel my resolve to write slipping.”
Below is a list of affirmations to counteract the inner critic. Make up your own to fit your critic specifically.
- My life is unique and I want to share my wisdom.
- My stories are important to me, affirming who I am.
- I will not share my writing self with anyone who might criticize me.
- Publishing is not the goal of my first draft, so I will write just as I wish.
- I can’t prove my memories so I will write what I remember and not worry about it.
- I give myself permission to write.
- If memories I don’t like arise, I can write something else.
- I will breathe into love and acceptance as I write.
- Each time I write is a stepping stone to freedom
- When I write the truth, I balance my world.
- My family is not reading this while I write.
- I will not let my critic stop me.
- My life is important, and my thoughts and experiences matter.
Take a cleansing breath, allowing your affirmations to create a sense of strength and confidence in your body.
Fear, Shame, and the Dark Past
The reaction of family and loved ones, and family dynamics that label our writing as disloyal or wrong, keep many people from writing their truths. Often the writer is overwhelmed with fear and shame, and feels she must remain silent.
The inner voices that haunt many of us say things like:
- You can’t write that, it would hurt (your mother, father, aunt, uncle, grandmother, etc. insert name here).
- My siblings and relatives won’t agree with my truth.
- I am afraid of being rejected by my family if I write my truth.
- I can’t write what really happened—it’s too embarrassing.
- My family always wants to know what I’m writing—so if I don’t write, then I don’t have to deal with them.
- I feel shame and guilt when I write.
- I feel angry when I write.
- I feel helpless and little when I write.
- The past is too overwhelming and shameful.
- The past is too dark and nothing good happened.
Breathing deeply, invite white and golden light into your mind and body as these fears/worries/negative voices arise. Listen to your own voices, and write down what they say. Pay attention to each one, then counter it with reassurance and comfort, such as:
- You don’t have to write anything that disturbs you.
- What you write remains private and contained. No one needs to hear it. You don’t have to share your work for now, or even talk about the fact that you write.
Suggestions to complete your meditations and affirmation
If the dark past is demanding your attention, write for a brief period, then put it away. It is more intense to write in present tense. If you want to put the past farther away, use third person (he/she) and past tense.
Finish your writing sessions with a white and golden light meditation. Write positive stories to balance the darkness. The more you work with the inner critic, and keep writing anyway, the more freedom you will find. Your self-esteem will increase, and you will feel emotionally stronger.
You may want to work with one critic voice, paired with one affirmation. Try to keep your time with these meditations simple and welcoming. If at any time you become uncomfortable and feel that the journey into the past is too much, you may choose to stop the meditation and do something nurturing in present time. Leave the memories alone until you feel ready to deal with them.
If you are in therapy, you might bring these experiences to the attention of your therapist. If you feel tight and stiff places in your body, you might consider holistic approaches to healing, such as massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic work. There are a variety of healing approaches that integrate mind and body.
Take good care of yourself, as a person and as a writer.
Note. These meditations can be a means to get in touch with layers of memory and to come to the writing with a more relaxed attitude. However, if you are concerned about unpleasant memories coming up, or don’t feel comfortable in a deeply relaxed state, the exercises may not be for you. They are suggestions for relaxation only, with no promises for specific results.