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Cross-training the Critic Archetype

Thursday March 3, 2022

We get a lot of Critics who stop by the blog. And I don’t mean people who are unkind or anything—quite the contrary, most of you make a visible effort to be polite.

A lot of you identify with the INTJ or INTP four-letter personality types. You are naturally or automatically able to scrutinize, analyze, conceptualize, and see something for what it could be, which is a core gift of the Critic.

And still others identify with more supportive, emotive, or idealist-existentialist personalities, like the ENFP or INFP, and you may even feel guilty that you are starting to criticize more in life, and idealize less.

And me, what’s my interest in this? Hell, I’m a Critic myself. Personally, one of my long-term goals is to examine this archetype, and find ways to hack on it, bit by bit.

Sometimes we Critics are caught out by our blind spots. These could include:

  • A lack of self-awareness, or over-protecting the self
  • “Me vs. You” or “Me vs. World” mindset
  • Over-emotional critique
  • Perpetually feeling misunderstood, or underappreciated
  • Difficulties in navigating the social world at a professional level
  • Problems in receiving or contextualizing feedback from others

Oh and my favorite:

  • Feeling like a cornered rat, in a world in which everything sucks!

(I just love the imagery in that one)

So with this article I am to discuss ways to train in preventing that, among other positive outcomes.

As far as I’m concerned, one of the best things you can do for your Inner Critic voice is to cross-train. This involves engaging the Critic archetype in a flexible way, while exploring other archetypes as a way to broaden the available perspectives and apply their lessons back into the personal world of the Critic.

Here are some suggestions for other, non-Critic archetypes that provide really great opportunities for training. These archetypal “worlds” are great places, or mindsets, from which to start your journey in cross-training your inner critic.

Basic Level – Low-risk

  • Student Archetype: Critics can do well to embrace the Student archetype. It is typically a high-empathy zone for the Critic. They can leverage their own ability to learn into a quick energy-turnaround, providing fresh, optimistic grounds for productive engagement with others. It ought to feel Fresh, Breezy, and Easy to learn new things. If a learning topic is proving elusive or challenging, the Student should rely on learning structures, i.e. “Beginner Level,” “Intermediate Level,” etc. for personal measurement and better control.
  • Tourist Archetype: Critics should make an effort to get out and explore, letting their walls down. They can “soak it all in,” letting the new setting and its information come to them and make an intentional decision to focus their talent on navigating the destination for a desirable outcome, rather than criticizing it. (This archetype also applies to info-tourism, virtual tourism, etc.)
  • Audience/Fan Archetype: Critics should regularly experience things at a level that meets their basic human needs and pushes beyond a bit, into resonance with human desires. This will not only attune them with their audience, but it will also allow them to set a more reasonable performance-bar for themselves and others. It will allow the Critic with clearer access to empathy.

Intermediate Level

  • Academic Archetype: Critics should happily reach into the world of academia and theoretical studies. A good critic should be able to be “down to earth,” but they should also be just as happy “up in space” designing and scrutinizing novel, intuitive, theoretical structures. There is some risk here in that Critics may find it difficult to initially navigate from a position of intellectual nuance, as opposed to experiential nuance. Academia requires one to build the capacity to suspend judgment, and to conclude, “I can see what this could be getting at,” instead of, “WTF is this even supposed to mean?”
  • Programmer Archetype: Critics can turn to the Programmer to understand how to make scheduled progress into a performance of its own. The Programmer calls on structure directly, or creates it intentionally, like the academic. But unlike the Academic, the Programmer is typically orchestrating a specific outcome by relying on informational inputs. This archetype may seem difficult for a Critic to match in terms of skills, but the mindset itself can be a very helpful one for understanding the constructive world from a less emotional viewpoint.
  • Coach Archetype: A good Critic should engage in, plan, and anticipate their own outwardly-focused attempts at encouraging and supporting others, including Performers. They should be able to support and improve these efforts over time. They should also be able to turn this focus inward and coach themselves. A good Coach will never not be coaching themselves with conscious structural support, systems-development support, and ongoing emotional support.

Advanced Level – High-risk

  • Performer Archetype: Critics should and do perform. But I think it’s more important to communicate with this archetype, to relate to it, than it is to become it.
  • Teacher Archetype: Critics can be drawn into shallow patterns of engagement when filling a teaching role. It is important that they pay attention to their emotions, e.g. emotional eating, emotional communications, emotional boundaries relations with others, the martyrdom effect, etc. The Critic should remember that they are also here to learn, and they should build intentional, if gentle, boundaries around their learning time.
  • Personality Archetype: Critics need to be very careful moving into roles that position them as a Personality. These roles expose the critic to constant invitations for flippant criticism coming from an emotionally-overextended state. Critics can learn a lot about this world and its “game”.

In each of these advanced cases the Critic should attempt to define, broaden, and deepen the game, rather than detaching from it.

Well, there are a lot more to consider! But archetypes are a really fun lens on growth. This should provide a fun and interesting start to a lot of you.

Filed in: Control /105/ | Coaching /27/ | Energy /113/ | Essays /49/

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