The uneasy inner critic is no match for the blithesome inner fool.
introducing the cast of my inner critic committee
I have this trio of characters that live inside my head, which are known collectively as the Inner Critic Committee or the Naysayer Assembly. One is a middle-aged guy with greasy hair, wearing thick, smudged glasses, and the same office shirt he’s sported for decades but is now two sizes too small so the buttons struggle to hold it together. He starts most of his sentences in my head with “Well, actually…”. And then follows me around incessantly insisting that I am wrong about one thing or another. (He also wants you to return his stapler.) Then there’s the gollum-like character, hunched over, undernourished, with stringy long hair who loves to ask me, “ARE YOU SURE?”, then sit back giggling while it watches me spiral into the depths of a doubt tunnel. The other one is a small, nervous, half-rat person who startles at the slightest thing, especially thoughts of starting something new. “What if you FAIL?!” is their common turn of phrase. The Naysayer Assembly’s goal is to keep me from the unknown, from the dangers of change. They are a solid team who have been living with me for a very long time. And they are good at what they do, because I usually give them what they want - I stay put, frozen in fear, shucking my heart-driven impulses to the side.
"hide!" - your ego
Something surprising happened after publishing my website and sharing it to the “world". In the middle of the night, I detected the screams of these inner critics. They were VERY upset with me for taking a risk, for not following their advice to STAY HIDDEN. I mean, they do live off the supply of my fear, after all. They had called an emergency meeting to discuss the situation loudly in my brain.
"What have you DONE?! What will people THINK?!
People may not LIKE what you have to say!"
It was surprising because we are messaged that sharing your creative ideas, parts of yourself is inherently egotistical. I am discovering now that sharing from the heart is, in fact, the opposite. It is egotistical to never open up to anyone, to never celebrate oneself, to prevent oneself from exploring ideas out loud. It is egotistical because it is exactly the ego itself that you are protecting from rejection.
the fool keeps on foolin' on
The fool is immune to inner criticism because the fool has no stake in their ego. They are no better or worse than anyone else, than anything else. In the tarot they are represented by the number zero. They simply exist in pure innocence, free of an agenda, without the desperate need for self-preservation. So any inner criticism is just another point of curiosity.
“Who is this creature that is telling me to be careful? Aren’t they delightfully strange!”
They give the inner critic a big bear hug and go on their merry way.
Meanwhile, the inner critic remains frozen in shock, completely disarmed of their power.
The fool does not dismiss or deny the criticism. It too simply exists. The proclamations of the inner critic are not particularly significant, nor are they an indication of the fool's (aka our own) unworthiness. Instead, they are could be inspiration for a shift in direction, a point of wonder, without the heaping servings of self-deprecation and shame that most of us include.
We can all embrace the fool aspect of our nature so that we can learn to take a leap when the heart calls. While our Inner Critic Committee scrambles behind us trying to keep up. Poor things are just trying to do their job to keep us safe - but it doesn’t mean they’re right.