Feb 122020

Did You Love High School?

Valentine’s Day is a little unusual for me this year. The Amelia Island Book Festival chose The Inner Critic Advantage as a book for a large group of high school students this year — and I get to spend the day with them!

As I sit here making notes for that event, I feel full of gratitude and love for  200 high school first years I’ve not yet met. I wonder about how best to make meaningful connections and think back to some of the big groups I’ve worked with. Although high school was a very long time ago, I remember it as a very unsettled time with concerns ranging from boyfriends to big world issues, home room to hormones. Everything is up in the air. I want to be sure to acknowledge their concerns while sharing lots of love. It’s an opportunity to share love of literacy, love of kids, and, of course, strategies to love those inner critics.

Fun with First Years

The task is both humbling and exciting at the same time and I’m preparing with some reading. And I can’t go wrong by bringing along some candy hearts, can I?

As always, I’m sending lots of love your way.

No reason is needed for loving. - Paulo Cuelho Click To Tweet

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”― Elie Wiesel

“One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.”― Paulo Coelho

“To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow–this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.”– Elizabeth Gilbert

People Are Weird

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”– Maya Angelou

“There is no remedy for love but to love more.” – Henry David Thoreau

The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference.― Elie Wiesel Click To Tweet

“People are weird. When we find someone with weirdness that is compatible with ours, we team up and call it love.” – Dr. Seuss

“Love me when I least deserve it, because that’s when I really need it.” – Swedish proverb

“If you love a flower, don’t pick it up. Because if you pick it up, it dies and it ceases to be what you love. So if you love a flower, let it be. Love is not about possession. It is about appreciation.” – Osho

What are your thoughts on love? On Valentine’s Day? On spending the day with teens you’ve not met before? Or anything else you care to share. (I think that at the end of a long day, I’m going to need your comments!)



Andrea Patten has managed to love her inner editor long enough to publish  The Inner Critic Advantage: Making Peace With the Noise in Your Head a little book full of big ideas about how — and why — you can learn to love “that voice.”   The Inner Critic Advantage is now available on Amazon.

Dec 102019

I rarely marry the concepts of ‘celebration’ and belonging to professional groups, but there is one such group that seems to push me to unexpected boundaries and edges. Earlier this week another member of the group asked the rest of us whether we were taking enough time to celebrate our wins. I quickly responded that such a review was a regular part of my year-end reviews and promptly forgot about the conversation.

Celebration in the Draft File?

Book cover The Inner Critic Advantage

Sometimes life calls bullshit. Sometimes, when updating a website, an author will come across posts that never made it to publication. Perhaps they were not up to her usual skill level. Maybe the idea that seemed so compelling in Paragraph One ran out of juice a few lines later. Or maybe the thoughts hanging out in the “draft” folder just seemed a little too self-congratulatory.

That’s where I found these — in the draft folder. I almost put them back. There are other, more important things to write about, right? But there are situations that have had me thinking about celebration. I’m a big fan of this little book and all the people it has helped me connect with since it first came out.

Sometimes life calls bullshit. If I’m honest? Sometimes I forget. Click To Tweet


Do You Look at Your Wins?

Was it, in fact, lack of love and attention to my very own inner critic that stopped me from sharing these lovely thoughts with you? Could be, but I really don’t think so: I’ve just been lazy about looking at my wins. Like so many of my women friends, I set goals, work hard to achieve them, smile… and just move on. Sometimes I forget the celebration.

So here it is: a celebration of The Inner Critic Advantage. And, as I put together this post full of kind words from friends, I am picturing each of them raising a glass and toasting the people who are making peace with the noise in their heads.

To your health!

I am picturing each of them raising a glass and toasting the people who are making peace with the noise in their heads. Click To Tweet




“What makes this book so special? Important information about the autonomic nervous system presented in an entertaining, user-friendly manner so it can help us on a daily basis.”

— Dr. Kevin Lin


“In The Inner Critic Advantage, author Andrea Patten invites us to explore the possibility that the critical voice in our heads can become ally and friend and then she shows us how to do it. Practical, insightful, wonderfully humorous, and, ultimately, full of “wild wisdom,” this book will change lives.”

— Terri Clements Dean, psychologist, author, Traveling Stories


orange gratitude


“As an artist I’ve got to acknowledge my inner critic and accept her as part of who I am. By doing that she actually becomes helpful. Fabulous!”

— Bonnie Jayne O’Keeffe, Bonnie Jayne Art


Explore the possibility that the critical voice in our heads can become ally and friend... Click To Tweet


“Andrea doesn’t just deliver great advice and innovative strategies. She gives her readers gifts that few authors offer: compassion, respect and love. She really wants them to thrive, and that comes through in every line of this warm, wonderful book.”

— Tim Vandehey, co-author, Produced By Faith and The Wait


First world problems


“Everyone has an Inner Critic. In The Inner Critic Advantage, author Andrea Patten explains how to work with your biology and turn that endless supply of self-directed criticism into an unbeatable advantage.”

— Linda M. Lopeke, Smart Start Coach


“Thought-provoking and liberating—a balm for creative souls.”

— Barbara Bond, author, The Beach Walkers


Norma Grider Avon


“To continue to grow in all areas of life, I believe you need to make a study of the things that surround you. Certainly the “voice in our head” is one of those things — maybe even the most important one. This book goes a long way toward helping us understand its origin, triggers and what we can do to insure that voice is a gift and not a curse. Well worth the read!”

— Lisa M. Wilber, Avon Platinum Executive Leader, sales trainer & author



Andrea Patten has managed to love her inner editor long enough to publish  The Inner Critic Advantage: Making Peace With the Noise in Your Head a little book full of big ideas about how — and why — you can learn to love “that voice.”



May 152019

Most people I know — especially other writers — subscribe to the “this may be good but I can do better” school of work. As a result, given the right combination of HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, tired) our minds can quickly flip over to “this will never be good enough.” That inner critic can grab hold and shake our confidence like a dog with a new toy. This is part of the reason that the online #WritersCommunity flourishes: there’s always someone there to be goofy or to share compliments with a floundering counterpart.

We thrive when others point out our good qualities and the things we are doing well. Compliments are some of the best gifts we can receive — especially until we learn how to provide this wonderful experience for ourselves.

That #InnerCritic can grab hold and shake our confidence like a dog with a new toy. Click To Tweet

I spent many years teaching women how to appreciate their own talents and strengths. While there are many ways to do this, one of the exercises I routinely used was called Building Emotional Muscle. Here’s an abbreviated version.

Below are 45 words for positive traits:

  • active, determined, kind, adventurous, energetic
  • lively, artistic, enthusiastic, loving, aware
  • expressive, observant, beautiful, forgiving, open
  • bold, friendly, patient, brave, generous
  • powerful, bright, gentle, ready-to-learn, capable
  • handsome, respectful, caring, happy, responsible
  • changing, hard-working, sensitive, confident, honest
  • strong, cooperative, imaginative, thoughtful, creative
  • inventive, unique, dependable, joyful, wise

Choose your favorite 5 and list an example of how it manifests in your life.

You can also use this list with some of your online (or in-person) “crew.” Tweet, text, or email an example of how each of them exemplifies one of these traits. Choose a day during the week or month to share this sort of support within that group. Eventually, each of you will have a great collection. In fact, while you’re at it, why not have each group member add 10 or 15 words to the list?

One of the problems with using this sort of technique to counteract your inner critic is that many of us have a hard time accepting compliments.

Sometimes this works best if you don't compliment the person directly -- let her overhear you. Click To Tweet

In that case, here are two more recommendations. First, don’t compliment the person directly — let her “overhear” you. Address your compliment for Ann to Barbara, like this: “Have you noticed the way Barbara’s writing has improved? Her creativity is really shining through!” Depending on the relationships between people involved, Barbara should either not respond or can say/post a simple “thank you.”

Finally, writing can be a lonely business. Comments on blog posts let writers know that someone is reading – and that alone is a great form of feedback. If you’re not sure what to say, refer back to this list. It makes a wonderful starting point for sharing compliments — online or in real life!


Andrea Patten is the author of The Inner Critic Advantage: Making Peace With the Noise in Your Head.

Sep 072018

And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.

The Mending Wall, by Robert Frost


When considering boundaries I’m rarely surprised when the phrase “Good fences make good neighbors” shows up in my brain.

Just what are boundaries, anyway? Experts say they are a combination of rules, limits, and standards that help define a personal code. They help us choose who is in our lives and at what distance. That code helps us know how to respond if someone oversteps those boundaries. Feeling unsafe or uncomfortable can be a signal that our boundaries are being breached. 

Each individual gets to define the boundaries that work for them: some people love hugs from strangers while others find the same warm gesture from friends a bit needy and intrusive. A personal code is exactly that: unique, individual and highly personal. And since its parts are a combination of upbringing, culture, experience, values, attitudes, and beliefs, that makes a lot of sense.

Boundaries are Bi-Directional

Personal boundaries are bi-directional — affecting both what is given and what is taken. So what kind of boundaries do we set with — and for — ourselves?

Is there a painful, annoying, or humiliating scene you revisit? Call it to your consciousness.  Get a good clear picture, making sure you are IN it. (Not an observer but a participant.) When you have it clearly in mind picture yourself picking up a very big bucket. It looks a lot like a paint bucket but it’s full of powerful, healing white light. Imagine yourself picking up a paintbrush or a roller, the bigger the better. Dip it into your magic bucket, loading it up with the white light to paint a great, big white “X” over any part of the scene makes you uncomfortable. Keep going until it’s only you, positive parts of the story and lots of white light. (This is practice for a boundary that removes hurtful elements from your environment.) 

Here’s one that works best when you’re feeling pretty good but headed for a situation that has potential to be draining or stressful: you have “butterflies.” Take a moment to notice the sensation and where it is located in your body. Some people feel a vibration, others feel pressure or heat. It might be in your spine, your abdomen or your chest — any place is fine. Notice it and appreciate it. Call it “energy,” “power,” or “life force.” Now call in the white light only this time there is a giant invisible hand directing the paint brush. The cool thing about this giant hand is that it responds to your telepathic direction so picture it encircling you, your family, your home, your car, your office, your family…. all with a sparkling circle of protective, healing white light. Go about your day knowing you’ve put divine protection in place.

A Little Woo-Woo Goes a Long Way

If you find the white light thing a little too “woo-woo,” perhaps you’d prefer something more concrete, like a spaceship? Raise your force field shields to fend off all the meteors, space debris and harsh judgment the world is flinging at you today. With your shields up you’re protected and ready to fly.

Blowing bubbles can be fun. They have a fun and funky energy that combines elements of light and of air. Picture yourself using an over-sized bubble loop. The next bubble you blow will expand with every out-breath. Enjoy watching it grow bigger and bigger until it surrounds you. What’s interesting about this bubble is that once you are safely inside, it takes a different form, still transparent but very strong. Unbreakable. It travels with you, helping you float above sticky situations while still seeing them clearly.

When people are feeling stressed they sometimes don’t feel it’s worth the energy it might take to make themselves immovable. So, rather than put a stake in the ground, we step aside until whatever kind of psychic storm is coming overtakes the path. That’s no good. Maybe taking a stand is too much work, but maybe imitating a tree could help — especially if we choose one that is rooted yet flexible enough to bend in a wind storm. 

Write a Better Ending

Finally, here’s one just for the writers in the crowd. Sometimes writing about grief or violence can be a little hard to shake so, when you’ve finished a particularly difficult scene, open a new document and re-write the worst parts. Give yourself and your character a happy ending — even if you trash it or save it in a file called “Transitions.” Let your imagination run wild. So what if your character has to turn into a flying, fire-eating dragon to escape the violence? Who cares if the love interest was unconscious rather than dead? Let it be. Finishing on this sort of a note lets you store a much more positive image as you shut things down and prepare to tackle your work again tomorrow. It couldn’t hurt, right?