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The Librarian and The Critic. Tuesday June 6, 2017

"Some people don't know how to give feedback!" declared my friend, Ginette.

We laughed about how feedback is usually 'criticism' wrapped up in what may indelicately be labelled a, "sh*t sandwich!" With equal fervour, I declared, "I never want feedback!"

Ginette's point was serious: don't ask for feedback if you don't want it. But I seriously don't want it. Why? Because I'm getting feedback all the time, every day, 24/7 from the critic in my head. My own Internal Critic does a far fiercer hatchet job than any numpty out there in the other world! I'm feedbacked-out!

Enter The Librarian...

Yes, I know that should be something dynamic like, "Enter The Dragon!" However, books, bookshelves, and libraries are dynamic places for me - packed with power. I realised just now that, just as I love these in the other world outside, I also have them in my inner world. My brain must be racked with bookshelves full of tomes bursting at the seams with what I've learned.

The solution to my internal critic seems clear: I need to install a librarian - a bossy one.

There are few rules in a library - after all, we are all looking for different subjects to study, and we all learn in our own way. But one rule is shared by all libraries: silence!

So my librarian has taken up residence and she (it's a she) has a habit I love. When my Internal, pompous, up-himself Critic makes the slightest noise in my mind, she says:


She looks over the top of her glasses, and she is very firm!

It's working so far... and making me smile.

It might work for you too!

(If you've got one of those annoying critics!)

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Leah Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 2:50am

thanks for the blog.
My inner critic would have the librarian in tears and have her give up her job and do something like grow flowers away from humans!
My inner critic is much fiercer than yours and would need more than a dragon!!
Why are librarians often portrayed as female of a certain age and have rimmed glasses??
In a time far far away I was studying to be a librarian. I never finished that degree, good thing as everyone said I could not be quiet enough for long enough.

Maybe I should send my critic off to a training camp.

Thanks again


Molly Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 4:14am

Lol - not be quiet for long enough, you do make me laugh Leah xx

Lex Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 8:30am

Hi Leah, I'm glad we had a similar path... though yours was more serious. My first (and most loved) proper job, was a Library Assistant (we were forbidden to call ourselves 'Assistant Librarians' - you needed a degree for that). I was on Mobile Library No.5 - trucking around the Surrey Countryside. Pure magic. I'll write a blog in your honour. Now, to your Inner Critic. I think we need to scale up our response here. I remember the opening scenes from 'The Water Margin' - where the band of heroes rode in on their horses, banners held high. It might be a bit Jilly Goolden ( here but I'm getting a band of Librarians riding in with 'Silence' and 'I SAID "Silence!"' written on their banners. We'll sort your inner critic...

Molly Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 4:10am

I didn't understand this blog - it was just too complicated for me to get my head around.

Lex Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 8:31am

I imagine a librarian saying 'Shhhhh!' to my Inner Critic. That's the key point. Works for me because of my positive feelings about Librarians but won't work for everyone, Molly.

Isabella Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 6:36am

I loved the libraries of my youth - absolutely no talking. Silence. Now they have people talking, coffee shops, children's noisy areas, art displays.... no longer a place of sanctuary and silence. I have tinnitus so no silence in my head ever....I wish your Librarian could shhhh it, Lex! Great blog.

Lex Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 8:34am

Thanks, Isabella. Have you ever heard of Milton Erickson? ( He had an interesting approach to tinnitus. I might be able to find it. In the meantime, shall we start a campaign for silent areas in libraries? I like the attempt to do this on trains!

patricia Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 8:42am

Please Lex if you can find the interesting approach to tinnitus, having suffered for some 35 years, thanking you in anticipation.

Lex Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 10:42am

Hi Patricia, I've found what I remembered. Of course, we have to say that Moodscope can't directly recommend a treatment or vouch for its efficacy but I know this has helped some. If it appeals, you'll need the help of a registered practitioner to guide you through the process. I'm hoping the best for you and Isabella.

Oli Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 6:15pm

Hi Patricia, Lex, Isabella. Being mindful of not directly recommending, as Lex mentioned I won't link. However if you would like the name of a hypnotherapist who specialises in tinnitus then I'm happy to recommend one. It's an interesting approach which I use in a different speciality and I wouldn't promise the moon on a stick but it can be really helpful. Here's a temporary email address which will reach me for a couple of days before ceasing to exist:

Caroline Ashcroft Moodscope Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 8:15pm

Hi all, just to let you know I've checked out the above post and if you are interested, it's a therapist based in Dorset, UK. Moodscope don't know this lady, but from her web site, she does seem to be helping people with tinnitus. Hope this helps. Caroline

Lex Wed, Jun 7th 2017 @ 12:53am

I'd like to connect with them too, Caroline.

Lou Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 6:41am

As a fellow bibliophile who is also going through a "noisy head" period I really like this blog. Thanks for sharing :)

Lex Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 8:35am

So glad you really liked this blog, Lou. My Librarian is working hard today, so perhaps our two Librarians should swop notes? Have a great day!

Orangeblossom Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 7:32am

Hi Lex, thanks for the blog which I loved. I too have a harsh, clamorous, internal critic who a friend said, was my internalised mother, my fiercest critic thus fa, in rigorous competition with the inner critic. A librarian would be benign in comparison. As I trained to be a librarian, it would be like my better inner self fighting against the angry, harsh inner self.

Lex Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 8:36am

Oh Orangeblossom, this is beautiful. I can 'see' you rising up and succeeding in establishing the authentic you as the one who has the authoritative and final say.

Eva Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 7:45am

Excellent, I can employ an orangutan, he should be able to get that critic under control! I've always wanted my own orangutan.

Actually I don't suffer from internal criticism too much any more, somewhere along the way my perspective changed. I can still become very 'me' oriented, in my head, when extremely down, but I reached a certain point during one depression when I realised that I was just so unbelievably bored with the me'isms, constantly harping on in my head, me, me, me, my outlook had become so narrow and insular. The boredom built to a point that I just started to dismiss the thoughts and got on with looking for new and interesting things going on in the world (of which there are an infinite amount) to fill my mind. And that really helped me, I think one of my worst fears is boredom. Now I tend to recognise a rumination coil starting up and step away from the spiral, I purposefully think of something else and if that fails use audible distraction techniques, radio, TV, film, or go out for a walk... Generally distract myself.

I'll store my orangutan away though and try to remember to bring him out if I go down again :) he might even make me laugh! I have an orangutan potato peeler, he'll remind me :) thanks Lex, awesome!

Tutti Frutti Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 8:15am

Loving your orang utang Eva. TF x

Lex Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 8:41am

How brilliant, Eva. I'd 'forgotten' all about the Orangutan... but now I've got two Librarians, and what a team they make. My Orangutan has a touch of the 'Every Which Way But Loose' about him. Right turn, Clyde! (Rude but funny: For those wanting to know more about the Orangutan as a Librarian:

Tutti Frutti Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 7:46am

Hi Lex I enjoyed the idea of silencing the inner critic with a very firm Librarian which I find quite amusing - what a beautifully behaved inner critic and what an imaginative set up you have chosen to have in your head. More seriously though, I suspect it works as an act of mindfulness. Ie You have got used to focus on your thoughts and are able to choose to focus away from your inner critic onto your shushh ING librarian and that is enough to stop your inner critic in its tracks. I may try it although I imagine it is actually quite difficult to get it working.

I was wondering why you shy away from feedback out in the world. My experience is that it is nowhere near as harsh as the inner critic and may help as a much needed dose of reality for fighting the inner critic with. Of course the inner critic comes up with all sorts of reasons about why people were overly generous with me (eg they thought I would get hysterical if they told me the truth). Perhaps your system for shutting the inner critic up is more effective than a constant attempt to fight back with reality but why not use both?

Thanks for making me laugh and think.
Love TF x

Tutti Frutti Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 8:18am

To explain the above, just thinking that it is only a certain type of polite well brought up child that quails when frowned at or shushed by a librarian! Love TF x

Lex Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 8:44am

Hi Tutti Fruity, truth is my confidence has been beaten up by my response to 6 difficult years in a row. So I over-react to criticism. Few people realise what a delicate little soul I am! I'll take 'feedback as the breakfast of champions' if I ever recover, but in the meantime, 'Silence is Golden.'

Hopeful One Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 7:55am

Hi Lex- a great blog. Our Inner Critic can be very harsh,judgemental and often condemning.Unfortunately its activity, apart from creating a negative effect in our minds , also stimulates the flight/freeze/ fright centre to squirt cortisol in response causing even more damage as it affects the heart,circulation, digestive system and much more. So any strategy like your Librarian that will still the Inner Critic, or make it more friendly ,is welcome.

And of course a laugh squirts endorphins which are a good antidote to all that cortisol.

Ralph is driving home one evening, when he suddenly realises that it's his daughter's birthday and he hasn't bought her a present. He drives to the mall, runs to the toy store, and says to the shop assistant, "How much is that Barbie in the window?" She says, "Which Barbie?" She continues, "We have Barbie Goes to the Gym for £19.95, Barbie Goes to the Ball for £19.95, Barbie Goes Shopping for £19.95, Barbie Goes Nightclubbing for $19.95, and Divorced Barbie for £265.00." Ralph asks, "Why is the Divorced Barbie £265.00 when all the others are only £19.95?" "That's obvious," the saleslady says. "Divorced Barbie comes with Ken's house, Ken's car, Ken's boat and Ken's furniture

Tutti Frutti Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 8:22am

Nice to see you back HO. I have been missing the jokes. Love TF x

Lex Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 8:45am

Love that joke, Hopeful One... AND really appreciate the content on cortisol. Laughter is the best medicine, eh?

Jul Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 8:53am

Love the joke! Jul xx

Melanie Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 2:23pm

Ha ha HO - thank you!

Jul Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 9:04am

Dear Lex. I guess with your job, you lay your skills on the line and it's inevitable you will get feedback which I suppose will often stray into the personal unintended for not. But I think you said in your blog that you are your greatest giver of feedback to yourself. (I find it time consuming to keep going back to the blog when I write comments which is why I often go off at at a tangent) Like Eva, I don't often criticise myself in my head. The chatter going on (all night last night) is repeats of conversations and strands of thoughts that latch onto other thoughts and I find myslef "talking" about totally unconnected events. I think a librarian would have been very helpful last night and shall think of silence tonight if necessary. BTW Leah, the librarians in our local library are all men! Lovely kind gentle men. Like you Lex, the best!. Julxx

Lex Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 10:45am

Thanks, Jules. If you can stand horror movies, there's a really interesting Stephen King one called, "Dreamcatcher." The only reason I mention it is that one of the characters uses a Memory Palace - which looks like a lovely library in the film - to protect himself. I found it very useful to be able to see this in use on screen. If you don't like horror movies - the guy had a library in his head!!! Best of luck tonight xx

Millie Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 9:35am

Hi Lex, I love the idea of your librarian, peering over the top of their glasses, stern look and finger poised at mouth motioning a hushed silence. I've just found my equivalent, which is the lyrics from the Temptations "just my imagination running away with me". I sing out the critic and that seems to do the trick - much more of my singing and I don't think they'll be back!! It's working for me and making me chuckle too. As a gardener growing my own fruit and veg, my other song right now, is singing in the rain, it's a glorious feeling, I'm happy again. rain or on rain, hope you have a good day. X

Lex Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 10:45am

Millie the Magic Musician! I love it! x Let's sing together!!

Valerie Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 9:46am

Yes,I have one of those "helpful" inner critics,always quick to blame me when things go wrong,and when they go well for once,kindly remind me that it is just a fluke,it won't be long before I am down again.

I am trying to invite a new resident into my brain.When the critic gets going,this new friend shouts very loudly,not "Silence",but something a bit stronger that I can't write here, along the lines of "do be quiet you tiresome person"
I have fond memories of libraries as a child and teenager,that lovely smell-was it the leather or the type of paper used at that time?

Lex Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 10:47am

I think it was the smell of loved books, Valerie. Do you think your Inner Critic and my Inner Critic went to the same college to learn their craft? Off to sniff an old book or two now...

LP Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 10:06am

Hi Lex,
I loved everything about this blog. From the title, (which made me smile and had me scrolling down to see who had written it!) to the humorous rant and clever lightbulb entrance of the inner antidote that we can be inspired to empower within us!
I also feared having a swift, loud and embarrassing shhhussshhh launched our way and have never known one not to be highly effective! :))
As a child, I used to want to be a Librarian, for the peace and quiet and apparent freedom from stress. I thought I'd have to be clever enough to know what was in all those books though!
I liked the idea that there is a library in our heads.

I also loved the originality of the analogy and the empowering message behind it, that it is possible to sharpen our awareness and step in as soon as we realise that the inner. Ridiculous is piping up again!

I agree that that inner critic is well rehearsed. Mine stemmed from a critical mother too. So no wonder it can be persistent. All that early programmming of a child's young brain for years, followed by years of poor self image,it's bound to be internalised. I want to break free! Isn't that what we all want? No such thing as can't for me!
It's not real, it's conditioning. A way of thinking.
Why not give the Librarian the hawklike superpower to spot a self put down from a bit of a distance and recognise it for what it is under the mask? It's our own movie! If it had years of practice it will be well rehearsed, but the brain can learn with practice quicker than we give it credit for. With therapeutic help,if possible, even better.

I like Eva's point about boredom with the "same old, same oldness" of those repetitive negative thoughts. (It's only happened to me once when I was much younger. My first "black cloud" feeling from a sudden and final breakup. Literally couldn't stop crying unless completely immersed in something. Not sure how longit lasted for, but I clearly remember one day as I was about to settle into the misery, feeling like "I'm bored with this!".
I wish that it was all so easy now, but it's not impossible.

The inner critic might be persistent, but I won't be giving power to it. It knows where it can shove it's "feedback"!
Joking aside, rather than have negative feelings about it, probably better to notice it then do something else. I'm by no means there, but I'm up for running with the idea!
Didnt Ghandi say something like, if you have truth, deliver it with love otherwise the message and the messenger will be rejected (no time to look it up now) It applies to the messages we give ourselves too!

Ooh! It's been niggling away in the background about what I've written! More about how it will be received, than what I think. Have noticed it. Moving on. Will post anyway!

Thanks for an amusing and inspirational blog Lex! Wishing gentleness and peace to you and all

Lex Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 10:52am

These are wonderful insights, LP, and a great encouragement. Thank you. I'll have a look for that great Gandhi quote - such wisdom. Now, as for our Mothers... there's clearly a blog on this subject. (And I'm hoping you know the VERY rude poem by Philip Larkin?

Freya Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 12:42pm

Hi Lex, absolutely one of my favourite poems. When I recommended it to someone, they told me it was depressing. Hmm, I thought it was just a true story!!

LP Wed, Jun 7th 2017 @ 12:49am

Hey Lex and Freya, I must remember to look up that poem! Thanks LP x

Lex Wed, Jun 7th 2017 @ 12:52am

Oh, what have I started? Yes, it's rude, but I think it's such a powerful verse... hope you like it, LP x

Melanie Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 2:26pm

Just to say I loved this Lex. I will employ a clone of your librarian in my head. Thanks also - in case you did not look back a week or so for the explanation of Oxford comma and the link to your utube about Moodscope! X

Lex Wed, Jun 7th 2017 @ 12:46am

Hi Melanie, glad you loved it... and I'll look back now! Thanks for the encouragement x

Cathy Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 4:41pm

Hi Lex

There is a very 'good' critical voice in my head that works overtime so I am going to employ a librarian from now on! xx

Lex Wed, Jun 7th 2017 @ 12:47am

Excellent, Cathy... I feel Librarians as a profession have been recognised and appreciated in new ways today! xx

Anne Tue, Jun 6th 2017 @ 8:03pm

Loved the blog Lex, I have just started therapy again and at the 1st session my therapist asked me to invite my critic yo take a walk out in to her garden...

I did; they returned!

I now have installed a chap who is "Wise" and protects me from the critic and there's a woman who is encouraging and teaching me to be less serious.

I guess whilst I know my critic SO well there's no reason not to have other characters who I want there too?

Who else is there for you?


Lex Wed, Jun 7th 2017 @ 12:51am

Hi Anne, you're stimulating some very happy memories of Shakespeare for me: "All the World's a stage..." I see every reason to have many players in our heads. Some folks talk about having their own internal Mastermind Group. So they might imagine what Leonardo da Vinci would share as an insight, or Gandhi. I'd love to have some of the insights of Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, and Suzanne Vega - what a fun trio to have to tea! Gerald Durrell and David Bellamy informed my youth and ignited a passion for Nature. Thanks for asking - it feels like permission to invite them to become my counsel now. xx

LP Wed, Jun 7th 2017 @ 12:55am

That's an interesting idea Anne, positive inner guides.
I was thinking today that I've heard of another idea which is instead of feeling put down by the inner critic, or shushing it, we can challenge the thought. Opposite ideas, I guess different ideas work for different people. LPxx

Hazel Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 9:34am

Hi Lex.......loving your blog.......thanks a a fellow book worshipper of books and loving silence and solitude when things get tough emotionally for me.....this is where I my cosy corner with a book. I need to shut the world out sometimes its way too noisy for me at time .......people talking really loud and punctuating their sentences with foul expletives.......ooooh! I certainly don't like that.........thanks so much for your helpful blog I will certainly put it to very good use.

Hazel x x x

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