There is a voice inside of me. This voice is afraid of change. And success. This voice is abusive, vicious, vindictive and borderline psychotic. And even though I know deep down that this voice isn’t real and that what it’s saying is not the truth, I can’t help but listen to it.I can’t stop thinking that when it’s telling me that I am a shit writer it’s somehow telling the truth.
People with Depression will recognise that voice. That voice is a big part of us.
And that voice is nothing new to me. It’s been there all my life. But with the onset of my Depression it has gotten louder and more powerful. This voice feeds on my self-doubt and my fear. And boy has it been feasting in recent months.
It’s now starting to resemble Jabba The Hutt.
A healthy dose of inner criticism is important to our wellbeing, otherwise we’d all be narcissistic douche bags with bleached hair and waxed chests. The other extreme is the weak, self-conscious little mouse who can’t make eye contact and speaks so quietly that you need Lassie-like hearing to decipher what she’s saying. I don’t want to be either. I want to be somewhere in the middle.
Now if you happen to be Kanye West and you accidentally stumbled on this blog you will have no idea what I’m talking about.
If you are Kanye West, please click here for alternative entertainment.
I don’t believe Kanye West has a grain of self-doubt in his firm little body. No one likes Kanye West more than Kanye West. If he does have an inner critic then it’s probably the size and weight of a toothpick. Mine on the other hand is so fat that it sleeps on a bed re-enforced with concrete.
Ironically, I have started writing this post about ten times already. And each time Jabba The Inner Critic has shut me down. Even as I’m writing this sentence, I can hear the voice. Jabba The Hutt is not a very original idea it says. This is a constant struggle. Constant. What a fucking waste of time. Seriously. I could be great! I could be so great. If I don’t overcome this voice I will be nothing. This voice makes me afraid of everything. It makes me afraid of life. It plays conversations over and over in my head and tells me how stupid I sounded. It’s torture. Sometimes, completely out of the blue my voice will replay embarrassing things that have happened to me.
The voice will say:
“Remember that time you said semen instead of sesame?”
Ha, that was funny and stupid. You’re stupid.
“Remember that time when you followed through at the beach and walked around with poop in your pants for six hours? Remember that? Yeah, let’s think about that”
“Remember all those times people tried to high five you and you messed it up?”
Ha, that was very uncool. Everyone hates you.
For future reference – I need a lot of notice before a high five. I need to position my hand in the right angle, practice the swing and make sure there is the desired ‘slap’. I need at least two days notice.
I mean come on!!! That shit happened like ten years ago. By the way I was a baby when I pooed myself at the beach. Seriously, this voice cuts me no slack. I cannot meet these expectations. I can’t. I can’t be perfect all the time.
This voice makes being creative fucking impossible!! Because creating means trying new things. It means freeing yourself, letting go. It means navigating new terrain. That’s impossible with this inner censor. They say that practice makes perfect. But there will be a lot of mistakes in my practice. How can I ever be perfect if I can’t practice?
This inner voice makes me fickle and weak. It makes me go to ridiculous lengths to get praise and validation. I constantly look for people to tell me that I did a good job. That I’m worthy. That I’m good enough.
It means that when I post an article or a story I am literally glued to the computer screen reading every single comment, counting every single like. God forbid the article does not do as well as my previous weeks one. Then my voice will go to town on me.
Your article sucked! People know you’re just a fraud.
Does it even matter if I liked the article? Does this stupid voice even realise that creating these stories and sharing them is a victory in itself? Why do I have these impossible standards? Why is it never enough? Why?!
Look, I don’t want to blame my parents for everything that’s ever gone wrong in my life (I do.) My parents pushed us children hard. They love us but success is really very important to them. It’s like they see us as mini-investments and a return on investment is expected of each of us.
Two years ago, I did my first half marathon. It was the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town. Known as the most beautiful marathon in the world, it attracts literally thousands of runners every year from all over the world.
I ran it and felt so proud of myself for finishing. Immediately afterwards I sent my dad a post-race selfie with a message telling him I had just completed my first half marathon.
My dad’s response:
Did I win??!!! Did I fucking win??!! Of course I didn’t win! My name is not Sina Usain Bolt!
A lot of artists and writers have this inner voice. Van Gogh’s famous quote springs to mind. Ok, here is the voice again. How dare you compare yourself to Van Gogh?! How dare you call yourself a writer and an artist! You are nothing! And you will never be nothing!
Jesus. This voice. Needs some fucking therapy. I don’t know why I’ve been going to therapy for the last year when it’s clearly the voice who needs it.
Is this ever going to go away? It’s gonna be a very long life with Jubba The Constant Critic by my side. How can I get rid of it?
I guess the first step in overcoming this voice is recognising that it’s there.
Secondly, I have to acknowledge that learning to ignore it is going to be a long process. I need to learn how to manage it. I have to consciously coach myself and tell myself every day that I’m the best thing that ever happened to me. I’m like frigging Jesus.
Lastly, I have to learn not to take Jabba The Inner Critic too seriously…