The inner critic is something we all hear from time to time.

During a recent coaching session with one of my coaching program peers, the topic of the inner critic came up. We agreed that it could be an interesting exercise for me to explore in more detail who this critic actually was.

After the session, my coach sent me a few tips to help write out this description (I’ve included these below in case you want to try it for yourself).

I was surprised by what came out when I sat down to write; it was something far more visceral than I expected.

Honestly, I’m not totally sure why I’m sharing it here – it probably says a lot about my frustrations, insecurities, and fears, and putting that out in public is probably terrible for business.

However, I believe it’s a great exercise to do, and I’m also pleasantly surprised at how descriptive my writing was.

Just don’t jump in front of me at the bar…

To help create yours:

Personifying the Inner Critic – Writing Prompts from Playing Big, by Tara Mohr

  • What are common things your inner critic says?
  • What are some adjectives that describe that voice? (anxious, stubborn, bossy, know-it-all, etc.)
  • Is the voice male or female?
  • Old or young?
  • If your inner critic were a person, what kind of person would it be? (A stern professor? A popular guy in high school? … )
  • What character personifies your inner critic? You can invent one, or pick from film, literature, cartoons, pop culture.
  • What’s your inner critic’s name? Where does s/he live? What does s/he most love to do?
  • What does s/he wear, eat for breakfast?
  • Doodle a picture of this critic / gremlin if you are so inspired or inclined

When you’ve completed this character development, ask yourself what is s/he keeping you safe from?

My inner critic

The inner critic is a brash, assured, self-congratulatory specimen.

He’s truly an exceptional individual – late 30s, fairly tall, always lightly tanned, thick set without anything excessive. Designer stubble at a constant manageable length, and an effortless rotating wardrobe of choice cuts. Casual, trim, dashing. A leisurely style, but there are plenty of tailored suits in the locker for when the occasion requires it.

He possesses a mildly sneering, condescending air, under which is clasped an impossibly thin yet still impermeable layer of body armour he recently sourced from an obscure Italian high-fashion brand. It sounds metaphorical, but it really isn’t. Monocle and Wired are about to a feature on it. The armour is only visible in the subtlest of ways of course. To do anything else would be obtuse.

He spends his time looking out across the expanses of the world, which he effectively sees as his kingdom, from a London office so minimalist, chic and nonchalant in design that the thought process behind it could only have been the most calculated, postured and engineered possible. It’s what you don’t see that counts. That’s true sophistication, he muses.

Of course, this is just one of the many ivory towers he graces with his well-toned and well-honed presence. London, LA, New York, Croatia, South Africa – plus all the other holiday hotspots. He makes the travel look effortless; all jet, no lag. Business class at the least, goes without saying. A razor-thin grey metal credit card that magically absorbs each transaction like a sponge being applied to the smallest spill, and cuts through any difficult situation like a razor.

Naturally he is connected to the brightest and the best in several important fields in today’s global media landscape; from advertising agencies to venture capital, exclusive film festivals to spa resorts. His LinkedIn profile sports many big brand names, yet it’s hard to find any of the actual work publicly viewable, and it’s hard to say what he really does. All of that happens behind close doors, in the places regular folk dare not venture (nor should they).

Being insulated from the real truths of pounding the pavements,  not being invited, and operating with no resources is a wonderful place for him to be. The high tower allows him to provide his intoxicating doses of faux empathy and sweeping gestures of masterly advice to his disciples and the ignorant peasants, while his gargantuan blindspots are instantly vaporised by the sheer Paco-Rabanne scented heat of his untamed, unabashed ego.

His voice often tends to take the gruff, impatient tone of a coked-up, glaring, lock-jawed football fan who’s been kept waiting too long for his third pint of Stella at the bar. This posture endears him to the working class crowd and those who adore everything about the hustle. It also terrifies and intimidates many of those who encounter him. He’s unflappable and willing to call anything how he sees it, an enormous character who can take on anyone or anything.

Yet he can articulate with the best of them, a master communicator. That’ll be his aristocratic stock, his wealthy father and a private school upbringing. It’s what endears him so to the illuminati; the rough with the smooth, the smouldering mystique with the cavalier attitude, the effortless chic with the Jack the lad.

These masks never slip; he’s learnt to wear them so well that the revolving false facades can never be detected, not in the slightest. Nor should they be. These layers are so hardened and set that they must never be melted away or exposed.

You’ll hear him rasp:

‘What the farrk are you doing that for moite?!’

‘Why would I even bother my time with that?’

‘You’re not going to build anything of any material value, I can see that’

‘The people I spend time with don’t back this kind of thing’

‘These are just silly ideas’

‘Look at all the time you’re just wasting’

‘People aren’t tough enough, they can’t handle these kind of circumstances’

Getting to grips with my Inner Critic

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