Last week, I submitted new web copy about the collaborative garden I lead. The membership has evolved since the garden started, and so have our ideas around how it can serve the community best. The old information had to go.
Doing this project revved me up for a more challenging task – revamping my website. I created it in the summer of 2016 when I had stars in my eyes because an editor had chosen to publish one of my essays. I decided it is time to create new material that conveys my current thoughts about this post-retirement pursuit and where it is going.
That’s when Mrs Tsk Tsk showed up, pissed off. She’s my inner critic. She thinks this whole thing – having a website that is all about me, me, me – is frivolous and selfish. I suspect she’s seething even more because I ignored her well-meaning counsel. She advised me to keep a low profile when the idea of publishing my work first started to niggle at me.
It’s no wonder she’s feeling threatened. I used to be so attuned to her voice that I couldn’t pay attention to the friends who urged me to share my writing. I couldn’t even hear the other voices in my head who disagreed with Mrs Tsk Tsk but had been too polite, no, intimidated by her, to speak up.
I still need Mrs Tsk Tsk on my team. An inner critic can keep me out of a lot of hot water. But if I listen to her too much, she can prevent me from even sticking in my toe to check the temperature.
A technique that I’ve started to use with the garden group is beginning to help me manage her. When a topic I expect the gardeners will see from different perspectives is on the agenda, we pass around a talking piece. The person who is holding it can weigh in on the subject, and everyone else’s job is to listen without jumping in to comment until all have had a turn to speak. When we start this way, the discussion and final decision reflect the wisdom and consensus of the group, not the opinion of the most talkative, dominant member. Me, for example.
I had a hunch that leading the garden group would help me grow as a person. It’s true.