I'm Saying He's a Gold Digger. (Yep Him, Your Critic.)
Trust me, he’s a gold digger.
Not the guy you’re dating now. Or the ex involved in your messy divorce. Or the prince charming or spiritual soulmate you’re waiting to meet or don’t ever care to.
None of them.
I’m talking about him, that one, right there, the one inside of you.
That little meddling and abusive intruder that you can’t shake off or out, even if you don’t know how the hell he got in—yeah, him.
The one that leaves you the rambling rejection messages in the internal voicemail account you never meant to set up but can’t quite turn off, him.
The one that sneaks his judging jeers through your mind’s direct line even after you try to trick him by changing your number or driving out of range, him.
That little fear-filled, doubt-dealing voice that can shrink you faster than any crumb of cake Alice ever swallowed when chasing the white rabbit, that tempts you back into your own hole and tells you it’s where you belong, that it’s warmer and cozier and safer here and scary out there, so best if you never venture into the naked uncertainty of the full daylight. Besides, sunburn and all.
That one, him.
Call him “the Censor,” Julia Cameron does.
Call him “gremlins,” Brené Brown does.
Call him “the predator,” Clarissa Pinkola Estés does.
Call him a shame-slinging, troll-tongued chatterbox, a bitter-breath brute, a careless coward and a loveless lout.
Call him her, too.
But most of all, call him out. He’s a gold digger and it’s your soul riches that he’s after.
Your “gold” is your gifts, your creativity, your heart-led desires—and this is precisely what attracts him.
He wants to keep it all for himself, not because it’s so ugly and unfit, but because it’s so precious and beautiful. Not only does he want to keep the rich stuff from the world, he also doesn’t want even you to have it. He’s the green-eyed, red-handed, greed-gutted guard of the jackpot of your soul, and he’s knocking-knees terrified to let it go.
The critic voice can’t ever shut up when you’re trying to realize something that you feel a deep calling to. That kind of behavior can send him into a full-on tantrum of yikes. You’re at risk of sharing your gifts, at risk of giving them away, at risk of finding there’s more to give, at risk of growing and if you grow, won’t he have to shrink?
Julia Cameron says that the Censor’s “most vicious remarks accompany your most original thoughts” but he readily permits “the mundane.” She invites us to say, “My Censor is acting up because I am being original.”
Brené Brown says that in sharing your creative ideas, “you’ll strip away a layer or two of the juiciest creativity and innovation to make the revealing less risky” if your gremlins have you caught up in hanging your self-worth on what you create.
Clarissa Pinkola Estés says that whenever there is beauty, the predator of the psyche shows up, trying to hoard it away where no one else can find it.
The predator is drawn out by beauty.
See? He’s a gold digger, legit. Your riches, your beauty, your gifts, your unique beautiful presence. Gold.
That’s why he musters up his greatest verbal attacks (doubt, scrutiny, slander) and energetic assaults (fear, resistance, distraction) around your gold.
You know the childhood game, “hot or cold”? The closer you get to something you want to find, the “warmer” you are, until you’re burning up. The farther away you get, the “cooler” you are, until you’re freezing.
You remember how it became almost impossible to bear when somebody was so close yet couldn’t quite put her finger on the thing hidden away from her?
Look at the critic. He’s all worked up, yelling and ranting and rationalizing why you can’t do it, why you’re not up for it, why it’s ridiculous or pointless anyway. He’s putting up a labyrinth of resistance, making whatever it is hard to get started on, making it hard to follow-through with, making it seem like a mountainous feat that you’ll never be able to scale or a vision too blurry to seize. Or maybe he’s letting you move in a leap but then following that with a tidal backlash of overwhelming panic that you’re entirely the wrong person for this, anyone else would be better, and it’s an awful idea to start with, and you’re getting it wrong and you’re bound to expose yourself.
Well all that nonsense right there is the critic jumping up and down because you’re too damn close, you’re hovering over his (your!) gold. You’re getting dangerously “hot, hot, hot” on the trail of allowing more of yourself to live, and he simply can’t stand still and watch that disaster happen in front of his eyes.
Yep, the villain of your psyche has a fundamental flaw. He’s a paradoxical little pest, because he’s a harbinger—a naysaying herald of what matters to your heart. He can’t help, in his little twisted way, but to let you know when you’re getting close.
So, I’m grateful for my little gold digging guide.
When I feel his attacks and assaults, I hope to heed them not literally, but like a smoke signal.
Something matters to me here that he just got wind of…what gold is he trying to hide from me, what growth does he want to keep me from?
When he’s riled up, I’ll listen in.
It’s a pretty sure bet he’s trying to holler louder than my heart.
(This article originally published in elephant journal.)