Silencing Our Inner Critic

That is so dumb. Worthless.”

“Buzz off,” I reply without looking up. I continue writing.

This is going to be the worst book ever.  By the way, have you looked in the mirror lately? Is that a crevice between your brows or just another wrinkle?”

“I said get lost!” I speak more firmly this time. “I ain’t got no time for you.”

(Sometimes I slip into slang in order to really drive home a point).

Had you viewed this heated exchange, dear reader, you would have seen me, quietly sitting in front of the computer, engrossed in my writing.

The barb-thrower was none other than yours truly. The brief, verbal wrestling match emanated from my own head: my inner negative critic and me. I usually don’t allow him/her to be heard, but I did for the sake of this post. This disparaging, alter ego exists in many of us, excelling in planting fears and anxieties, magnifying insecurities and creating low self-esteem that makes us doubt ourselves. It’s the relentless critic in each of us.

I call this vitriolic voice, Ling, thanks to a supernatural encounter, many years ago. A psychic approached me, laughing. She explained,

“There’s a little Chinese guy standing right behind you. Ling’s so funny!”Image result for cartoon chinese guy

At the time, I was standing alone. Apparently, Ling was an apparition only a psychic could appreciate. I decided to humor her. “What’s he saying?”

She continued laughing, erupting into such elongated hysterics, I gave up and walked away. But I took Ling with me. He became the personification of the disruptive voice existing in my consciousness that tries to bring me down during a weak moment. Ling seemed like the perfect name. Miserable, argumentative, pudgy, possibly a member of the Communist party, always greedily criticizing and complaining, trying to wreak havoc by pushing me off track. Appearing whenever I felt vulnerable.

“You think I’m pudgy? Take a look at yourself in those pants.”

“How can I?” I reply calmly. “I weigh the same as I did in high school.” Which is mostly true.

In the early days, I let Ling do his job. My confidence was undermined. I routinely called myself an idiot, questioning how I’d ever get the job I wanted, wondering if I was good enough, and so forth. When I managed to land the dream job in a movie studio, like my main character, Corrie Locke, I was paranoid that I’d lose it.

Everyone wants your job,” Ling hissed. “Did I mention that you’re freakish to be having such a conversation?”

And so it was until one day, I decided to talk back to that irritating inner voice.

“I’m not listening to you anymore. If you’ve got something positive to share, we’ll talk. Otherwise, farewell.”

The self-criticisms didn’t go away that easily, but slowly and vigilantly, I silenced the intrusive inner commentary. I pictured my mind as a bus with me as driver and all the little denunciations as passengers, trying to take over the driver’s seat. If I let them, my bus would crash. My aim was to reduce the wretched, whining passengers until all the nasties were thrown out. So if I heard a negative thought, I’d view it as an undesirable rider and hurl him out by the seat of his baggy pants. It worked.

We owe it to ourselves to speak kindly in our minds. About ourselves and others. Our happiness and personal progress depends largely on our own efforts. We should strive harder to train our minds to think positively to develop the best in each of us. It’s worth the effort.


Seven Little Known Facts

I’ve been told by those in much higher places that I should post a few little known facts that readers may find of interest. Here goes:

1. I’m very nearsighted and have been since the age of thirteen.

2. Although I’m vain and don’t like to wear glasses, the mere thought of lasers, shiny tools, and suction rings conjures up visions of being strapped to a table and writhing under a blinding light while unseen voices whisper about me. Hence my myopic vision continues. I alternate between glasses, contacts and viewing the world through a lens that appears to have been coated in Vaseline. That’s good for people around me, as physical flaws are nonexistent.

3. I have an uncanny ability of killing off houseplants. I haven’t figured out whether it’s homicide or suicide – I have a knack for subjecting them to stressful situations.

4. I’m devoted to nursing plants back to health that I’ve almost killed. Here are pictures of one prime example:

Take note, the above shots are not a re-enactment. Those are my real plants.

5. I’m an avid library volunteer and I’ve been carrying a torch for the library since I could read.

6. Although I disavow big city life and its sometimes intellectually undernourished, I visit the city often. But I make contemptuous remarks upon exiting.

7. I am a procrastinator. But I have a good reason for being one: I work best under pressure.

There you have it! Seven little known facts that probably should remain just that: little known.

How NOT To Appear For A Book Promo Appearance

There’s something most of us wear every single day of our lives. It’s one of the first things others notice when they look at us. It’s something that may impact us in a negative fashion and turn our world upside down…at least temporarily. Especially if it’s not manageable before an important event. What is it? Our hair.

Before I became a parent, I frequented hip hair salons near my office where I was pampered and primped. My hair was cut by stylists who took no interest in their own unkempt, style-less locks. They unselfishly focused only on their clients.

Post-kids, I frequented salons of closest proximity, fingers crossed. After several recommendations, I went to see Justine of Justine’s Hair Studio.

Justine herself was an attractive blonde, her hair was carefully styled. The salon appeared pleasing to the eye. No hint of disgruntled customers. No one running into the parking lot wearing dark shades and a bucket over her head. No sign of hysterics.

All I wanted was to cover a few grays. I explained to Justine that I liked a natural look. My hair is dark brown and shoulder length. No one needed to know I colored it but she and I. She nodded conspiratorially. I relaxed.

When she finished, my hair was not the color of a freshly picked chestnut as I desired, but of crude oil. Jet, inky black.

“It’s too dark,” I told her.

Justine’s date had arrived and hovered in the waiting area. “Go home and check it out,” she said. “If you want it lighter, come back tomorrow.”

I returned early the next day. Justine assured me, “Don’t worry.”

What does “I like my natural color” mean to you? Does it mean I want my hair to resemble the hide of a zebra grazing at a Kenyan water hole? Because suddenly I had stripes that any zebra would longingly admire. I had cream colored, distinctive stripes. I blinked several times, hoping I’d nodded off and would awaken from my hairgedy (short for hair tragedy). I opened my mouth, but my words ran away. So what did Justine say?

“Do you want me to put it in a French braid for you?”

I realized that if I permitted Justine to do anything else to my hair, I might have to be led out in handcuffs. Yet there were no empty buckets or pillowcases handy. While I sat there mutely, Justine braided my hair. This is what the back of my head looked like when she was done:


 I kept it in this braid for a few days while I decided what to do. And of course, this was right before I had to attend an important event. And make a speech in front of esteemed audience members.

I made my speech and was stopped afterward by a colleague. She halted in the middle of her hello as her eyes fell upon my hair.

“My hairdresser was on drugs,” I explained.

She nodded in understanding.

I ended up finding the hair mechanic of my dreams (yet another person who cared nothing about his own locks) who gently coaxed my hair back to its original shade.

Moral: Never let a stranger touch your hair prior to an important engagement… or any other time where there are no nearby caves or cellars to slink into to wait it out.