Part of his power comes from the shadows.
We hear his voice, we know it by heart. He announces his presence with a rumble and he runs away with a wisp of smoke.
But again and again, we resist looking him in the eye, fearful of how powerful he is. We're afraid that like the gorgon, he will turn us to stone. (I'm using the male pronoun, but the critic is a she just as often).
He's living right next to our soft spot, the (very) sore place where we store our shame, our insufficiency, our fraudulent nature. And he knows all about it, and pokes us there again and again.
As Steve Chapman points out in his generous TEDx talk, it doesn't have to be this way. We can use the critic as a compass, as a way to know if we're headed in the right direction.
Pema Chödrön tells the story of inviting the critic to sit for tea. To welcome him instead of running.
It's not comfortable, but is there any other way? The sore spot is unprotectable. The critic only disappears when we cease to matter. They go together.
We can dance with him, talk with him, welcome him along for a long, boring car ride. Suddenly, he's not so dangerous. Sort of banal, actually.
There is no battle to win, because there is no battle. The critic isn't nearly as powerful as you are, not if you are willing to look him in the eye.