Do you ever find yourself wanting to write about or do something controversial, risky,or outside of the norm? If you’re like me, the answer “all the time” is in red on the screen in front of you.
If you’re still like me, when this risky idea appears, you’ll often hesitate to pull the trigger on it and it eventually subsides. And why? The Invisible Critic is to blame!
We hesitate because The Invisible Critic is watching us. It sees you when you’re sleeping, it knows when you’re awake (™ Santa). It watches especially closely when you’re about to step outside of those neat lines the world has drawn for you to play inside of.
Ladies and Gentleman – The Invisible Critic
So who is this gender-neutral villain anyways? The Invisible Critic is a projection we create when we believe that “others” would think something negative about us or our idea if we actually did it. What if I fail and so-and-so finds out? What if she judges me for it? What if I offend somebody?
The critic creates a resistance to our idea before there is an actual resistance to it. This is not to be confused with our own natural internal challenges to an idea. Internal challenges are based on the merit of the idea and not external worries.
This resistance is fake. Fabricated. False. Bogus. Phoney. Invisible. (did you get chills on that last one? Me neither. Darn.)
The Invisible Critic Show
Host: Hi, I’m your host and welcome to the show. Today’s guest is yet another Invisible Critic. Hello and welcome. How did you get your name, TIC? What brings you to the area?
TIC: My name comes from the fact that I criticize people, but I don’t exist. I’m here to intimidate the audience and I’m good at my job.
Host: Wow. What exactly do you mean? How do you intimidate people?
TIC: The people give me power. They create me because they’re worried about others’ opinion of their choices. I leverage that to intimidate them into not following through with some great ideas for their life. I often sound like a parent, relative, or friend and they worry about my reaction to their idea if implemented. I’m not actually those people – I’m just a representation of them in their mind, but I can do some serious damage, man!
Host: Wow, you are fascinatingly evil.
Host: What about something like this idea? Where a blogger creates a fictitious character to try and make something more interesting at the risk of being laughed at, ridiculed, or doomed to internet obscurity? You’d pose as a specific person or general societal opinion in my mind and try to make me doubt this wonderful idea?
TIC: Yeeeeah man, that’s it. Hey, where is your invisible critic by the way?
Host: I’m sure he’ll be here soon.
TIC: You must not have any decent ideas, haha!
Host: Nice try, but you’re not my Invisible Critic. I don’t know whose invisible critic you are, but thank you for letting me interview you and *cough* I hope your owner destroys you soon. All you guys do is hold people back from reaching their potential. You stifle their creativity and make them think they shouldn’t try new things or risk failing.
TIC: True. So?
Host: So…why should we be scared of what others think if we’re doing what we honestly think is best for our lives? This could be a guy taking up yoga or ballet, a girl wanting to play professional football, or someone dropping out of school. All of these people might have “TICs” telling them not to pursue these things because of public perception.
If real people actually have concerns about us, they can voice them to us in real life. If they decide to cowardly whisper and talk behind our backs, then we shouldn’t associate with them anyways. Invisible Critics should be eliminated. It isn’t our job to control what others think about us, but to live the best lives we know how to.
TIC: But the unemployment rate is high and this is the only job I’m qualified for!
Host: I know of a guy who once created an Invisible Critic that criticized his desire to purchase a premium wordpress theme to improve his blog. His Invisible Critic told him that he couldn’t afford it, and that it was a waste of money because his blog would probably never amount to anything worthwhile. The Invisible Critic multiplied and took on the form of all the people that he figured might think that, and it got to him.
Underneath the doubt instilled by TICs (The Invisible Critics), he still believed in himself and his blog ideas and that he could afford to invest in the blog despite his financial struggles. He realized that The Invisible Critic was not a humanoid of constructive criticism, but one that used fear to control the actions of people everywhere. He decided not to worry about TIC anymore and began to live his life the best he knew how in a way that aligned with his goals and dreams.
TIC: You know our secret weapon is fear?
Host: Oh yeah, and I’m spreading the word, so you’d better run!
TIC: That man from the story. That was you, wasn’t it?
Host: You got it, buddy.
TIC: *runs away*
I tried to get his autograph, but sometimes Invisible Critics will run away as fast as they appear. I hope that one meets his maker. Could it be yours? If so, I think you should have a little chat with it and let it know who is boss of your life and who is NOT. Don’t let worry and fear of what the world thinks prevent you from making the right decisions and pursuing your dreams. Unconventional methods to success are abundant, so don’t be afraid to explore them!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to purchase that premium wordpress theme for my blog. I also quit my job on the first day despite being unemployed since I graduated with a Finance degree in July 2010. Without a job, I don’t have money for rent this month and I’m moving back in with my parents. Tomorrow, I’ll be doing yoga because it helps my back and general health. There is only one problem, I can’t seem to find My Invisible Critic anymore. It would have so much to say about these choices. Oh that’s right, we went our separate ways and I’m happier now. 😀
Write that controversial blog post, quit your job and move to Africa, take steps to start that business that you’ve always wanted to, or do whatever it is that you honestly think is best (or a smart risk). It is a great idea to seek and consider wise counsel from people that you trust, but don’t let your Invisible Critic scare you out of a good idea or decision before you really consider it. Keep in mind that conventional wisdom isn’t always the right choice for every person in every situation.
Be your own person. Take ownership of your life.