Sending the Critic Packing

Article by Mary Be a Sullivan, Edited by Dee DeWitt


“What happened to you?” My friend Marjorie asked.  “Last time I saw you, you were so clear.  Today, you are all over the place.”


Marjorie was right, my energy was scattered and my focus blurry.  After a week filled with too much work, too many evenings out, and not enough silence, I was reverting to old, unhealthy ways of thinking.


“It is like the real you has vacated the premises and your inner critic is holed up in your head indulging herself like a drunken rock star.”  Marjorie added.


I cackled loudly at her analogy–a well-needed release from the swamp of negativity that I had been slogging through.


What had happened to me?  I wondered. Grateful for my friend’s honest and loving comments, I used them as motivation to consider what precipitated this free-fall into worry and doubt.  Busy with travel, work, and volunteer commitments, I had pushed aside my daily centering prayer practice for over a week.  I couldn’t remember the last time I had gone that long without inviting the silence.


Instead of taking time each day communing with the Beloved, I had been conversing with the “critic.”  Oh, the critic really is a persistent, clever, and cruel companion.  When feeling healthy and balanced, I usually do a pretty good job of recognizing her and dismissing her harmful banter.  Without the foundation of my prayer practice in my daily routine, I had allowed her diatribes to dominate.  “You look old.”  “You need to work harder.”  “You should be saving more money…feeding the homeless…visiting the sick…studying more…”


Marjorie’s observation helped me notice I was giving that relentless critic free reign–she was squelching my creativity and distracting me from “all that I yearn to be.”


After further reflection I decided, if I did want to address some of the issues raised by that venomous inner critic it would be from a place of “can” and “could,” not “shame” and “should.” 

Returning to myself, I understood that the critic is not the voice of Love–hers is the voice of limitation.  I knew it was time for me to send her packing and invite the Beloved to occupy that space instead–the voice that marvels at the essence of our true nature, urges us to embrace possibility, and encourages us to offer ourselves completely as communion to one another.


We all have an “inner critic” or “Gremlin” as Rick Carson calls it.  How have you silenced the voice of fear and doubt?


“Deliver me, oh Giver of Breath and Life, from the fears that best me; help me confront the inner shadows … They distract me from all that I yearn to be, and hinder the awakening of hidden gifts that I long to share with others.” 

- Psalm 140, Psalms for Praying by Nan C. Merrill


Mary Bea Sullivan is the author of Dancing Naked Under the Moon – Uncovering the Wisdom Within, a compelling story about her pilgrimage toward wholeness.  She facilitates spiritual retreats and workshops for women’s groups and faith communities.  Mary Bea lives with her husband, Malcolm Marler, and their yellow (white really) lab, Daisy, on Smith Lake in Alabama. For more information about Mary Bea Sullivan and her work, please visit


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Posted on 19 July, 2010 in Balance, Happiness, Motivation
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