Bear comes in again, full of bristling and gruff humour.
“That went well didn’t it?”, it growls in a voice full of loathing and judgement. “I mean, why say that, what must people think ? How silly you are to think your voice matters.”
Bear paces as it talks, highlighting what was wrong and how it could have been better. Much better. It stops pacing, to lean forwards into my face….
“If only you weren’t, well, … you…”
Bear shrugs and leaves. I sit and cry.
Bear comes in again, full of bristling humour.
“What a mistake!”, with the deepest of laughs. “Who else would make such an error. What on earth were you thinking….you were thinking weren’t you? “
Bear lowers his gaze into my eyes…
“No-one else would make such a mistake. Ever.”
Bear shrugs and turns to leave.
“Wait.”a wavering voice says. My voice. “Everyone makes mistakes.”
Bear glares at me.
“Well they do, don’t they?”
“Not like you do” it growls and leaves, with a little less bristle than before. I sit and ruminate.
Bear comes in again, full of humour.
“What were you doing ? Why did you decide to do that – any idiot wouldn’t have done that!”
It takes up its pacing position and is about to continue growling when a voice says
“I was doing my best.”
Bear stops and looks quizzically.
“Your best?”, followed by a shallow bellow of a laugh.
“Yes, my best. Please sit with me and help me to understand what I could have done better.”
And out of astonishment rather than leaving , Bear sits down, opposite me.
“Better?” it asks.
“Yes. I know I made a poor decision, but my intention was good. How could I have done it better ?”
Bear seems to shrink a little, his fur softens and he sits quietly for a few moments, thinking alongside me.
“Well, I suppose actually what you did was the right thing in the circumstances. And you know, well, with the information to hand.”
Was that a smile Bear?
“I suppose you could have asked more questions before assuming the action was correct.” Bear suddenly stands, all bristles and gruff, but not with me. “I don’t have time for this”.
Bear leaves. I sit and reflect.
Bear comes in again, full of good humour.
“That was a mistake and a half “ its low growl full of something not heard before.
“I suppose it was inevitable you would make a mistake like that. What do you think ?”
Bear sits and looks at me.
“I think that I was doing my best and I really had the best of intentions at heart.”
Bear smiles. Wait, Bear smiles.
“Did I make a mistake really or are you just telling me that ?”
Bear leant forward, fur all soft and comforting, with a tenderness in his eyes.
“I think I may be the one mistaken. Perhaps it wasn’t a mistake, perhaps it is something that was good. Perhaps it is something that I don’t really understand.”
“Bear, I am doing okay, aren’t I ?”
Bear leans forward, arms enclosing me in a hug.
“You are doing your best. And that is okay”.
Bear stays and we sit together.
Words by Chris Winson. Images by Louise Gardner. Copyright remains with both.
Post Script. I first explored the idea of my critical self as a bear in my personal blog post and it has really helped to turn critical thoughts into more encouraging, supportive way of thinking. It’s difficult to do, it takes time and Bear still appears very grizzly…but the cuddles seem to be getting more often. A big thank you and hug to Louise for taking the words and providing the perfect illustrations.
What an amazingly honest piece of writing Chris. I was moved to tears. Such a great example of how to turn ones inner critic around. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience. Lovely images too from Lou 💚xx
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My inner critic & compassionate other are both wolves in different guises, I hadn’t contemplated the idea of engagement with ICWOLF rather than almost trying to shrink it with an enlarged P (my Compassionate other). This has given me something to think about as it does allow for the intentions of the inner critic to not be dismissed, i.e. that intention to look out for you even if its in a harsh, destructive way.
Lovely piece of writing and great images.
Thanks Chris for sharing.
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Thank you and this was a big change for me a couple of years back, to switch to working on the critic towards an encourager , rather than two separate voices. It was part of the work around you can’t often change the words, but you can change the tone that then lead onto this for me. Thanks for the kind comments.