Category Archives: Unhelpful beliefs

How to deal with your inner critic or the dangers of positive thinking

I used to be a very positive person. With time, I realised that It wasn’t such a good thing. In fact, I believe it stopped my emotional progress. If you try to be positive when you are facing challenges or negative thoughts, you will as a consequence be in denial of your negative emotions. You will be thinking, as I did, “I am a positive person” and as a consequence you will deny your negative thoughts and feelings. The first danger is that you will become passive aggressive and project your negative feelings onto others. This is what happens to people who have issues with anger and who are by “coincidence” surrounded by angry people: their boss, father, boyfriend, husband, or their friends. But no, not them. They never have issues with anger. As a writer, you want to know about this process which is called mirroring. It will bring great depth to your characters.

Positive thinking is only helpful if practiced AFTER you have dealt properly with your emotions. There is no shortcut: Negative emotions have to be processed, experienced and embraced. Truly positive people tend to do that as quickly as possible. Negative people will dwell in the process and often enjoy the attention they get from complaining. They moght even manipulate you into doing what they want through making you feel bad about them. Very different. They make beautiful characters.

But being too positive also stopped my progress as a writer. Let me explain. If you deny your negative thoughts, you won’t hear them when they pop in your head. It doesn’t mean however that they won’t exist. It will just mean that they will live at the level of your subconscious and what they will do there is feed your inner critic who will be given a golden opportunity to get in the driver’s seat and create havoc in your life.

The best way to manage your inner critic (you know that little voice that is constantly nagging at you and putting you down) is not to ignore it, nor to silence it. The best strategy is to listen to it and become aware of its voice. Why? Because then it surfaces into your awareness, which drags it out of the driver’s seat of your life. For those who don’t know it yet, the subconscious is driving your car, always. And it always overrides your consciousness. It always sits in your blind spot. Believe me, you don’t want your inner critic there.

So what is the best way to deal with your inner critic? My suggestion is to engage with it after you acknowledge it for what it really is: a phantom that feeds on your fears and every single negative comment or remark anyone has ever made to you. Fears are only thoughts. Beliefs are only thoughts that you think are true. Recognise that you are not your thoughts. Recognise that your mind is full of junk and good thoughts, but probably a lot of junk. You are not your mind either. Talk to your inner critic. It is the part of you that is scared and that believed everything everyone said, but mostly the negative.

So when your inner critic tells you that you can’t write: realise that it is only trying to help you not make a fool of yourself. It is there to protect you (it really believes it does anyway). Only it has the emotional maturity of a toddler. So engage with it as if it was a toddler. Listen to it with compassion when it is having a tantrum. Hold it. Comfort it. And set boundaries: your inner critic needs to be given a time frame to complain or criticise. I would suggest ten minutes per day. After that, thank it for its voice and get on with your writing.

To your creativity

Ange de Lumiere

Can I really make you write?

I want to share with you a story about something that happened to me this morning as I came back from doing my grocery shopping. I had on my shopping list to buy  jam but didn’t buy it from the supermarket on purpose as I wanted to buy home made jam. So I headed for a lady in my village who used to leave her jams and preserves outside her door in a little wooden hut with a honesty jar for people to pay their due. I wanted to buy jar from her but noticed the whole hut had vanished. I knocked on her door.

I asked her what happened and she explained why she had taken it away. We got chatting, as one does, and she asked me what I was up to these days. We hadn’t seen each other in a while. I told her I was now running writer’s workshops for people who want to write books.

I said to her that not all books had a lot of words in them and had she considered writing a book of her recipes for her jams. I told her it could be good for her business. She told me  that she might one day write a book before she died but not before. It was clearly not on her list of things to do. She immediately added that she hated writing with a passion. I told her I wasn’t that good myself and even had a fail as a predictive mark for my GCSEs in English (well it was in France so it was French, but you get the idea) and it was through sheer hard work that I managed to get a C. So not exactly that good at writing myself in school. But could it have had to do with the way it was taught? I didn’t particularly enjoy having to study French literature. And it wasn’t really geared towards nurturing my creative writing skills. If anything it would have stifled them.

I then went on to say that  she could write her book of recipes one recipe at a time, on sticky notes, as she was making her jams. And then all she needed to do was stick them in a notepad and wait until she had enough to make a book. I asked her how many recipes she had. She said at least a hundred. All in her head. I said, get them out even for your own sake. You could get one book printed only for you. I can help you with that. If you write one recipe per day as you make your jams, in five to six months you will have them all down on paper.

She said “Funny you should say that, just before Christmas I said to myself I would like to write down my recipes.” There you go. She left saying that she was definitely going to give it a try and she had completely forgotten how much she hated writing and how she would only write a book on her death bed. I, on the other hand, was thinking that without much effort she would have her book ready by the summer, without even realising it. And then she added “I might just do it to annoy (so and so) and show them I wrote a book”. Why not? After all, you just have to find the motivation.

This is how dangerous it is to talk to me about your vague idea about writing a book or even about the fact that you will never write a book. I know I can make almost anyone write.

My jam lady was the least likely candidate to write a book… and when I left her she smiled and said “I am going to give it a try”. So do you think “I can make you write” now?

To your creativity

Ange