If the inner critic would just shut up


99% of us have a continuous stream of commentary going on in our heads. (I'd say 100%, but I once heard an interview with a woman who says she basically has no inner dialogue.) Most of the time we don't notice the voices unless we're trying to meditate, or we've done something pretty dumb and the voice berates us as we run the moment over and over in our minds. The French call this l'esprit d'escalier (the wit of the staircase--what we should have said/done, but now it's too late).


The inner voice wants us to survive, and like Jiminy Cricket, it offers a steady stream of well-meaning advice. Unfortunately, that voice spends way too much time noting our shortcomings, and too little dealing out praise. Somehow it believes we'll do better with the whip than the carrot. The quote above says it all.


My internal Jiminy Cricket has been strong within me for most of my life, with plenty of material to feed on. I've managed to make it to the positive side in many areas, but Getting Shit Done is still a battle. Jiminy always has his eye on my To Do lists and has words for me when too much goes undone. Of course, the To Do list will never be done, because as soon as an item is complete I add two more. Sound familiar?


I'm happy to share my new strategy, suggested by Oliver Burkeman in his terrific book, Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals, which I wrote about a month ago. It totally aligns with the focus of The Cherry Pie Paradox--which is about discovering and strengthening your inner "thin" self rather than wallowing in your old "fat" stories and behaviors. Here's my new strategy:


Keep a "Done List."

I've now redesigned the layout of my weekly planner so there's just a small space each day to note my appointments plus one or two critical tasks. The rest of the space I fill with all the things I actually did, usually right after doing each thing. At the end of a day that simple shift makes me feel much more positive , even if at least half the things weren't on any list. I mean, every day shit comes up that eats up time, despite your best intentions. A sick cat. A computer issue that requires a lengthy call to tech support. The neighbor who stops by to return a cup of sugar and stays for a delightful chat over tea.


That is life, my friend. That is life. I'm enjoying it more with this shift in focus. Try it and let me know what you think.

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