We must embrace our personal Crow and Loyal Soldier. 8

from book

We all go through life plagued by doubt. We may constantly believe we lack our colleagues’ admiration or think we’re underachieving. But what can we do about it? First, we must learn to embrace our personal Crow. When he was in college, Colonna took writing courses with the poet Marie Ponsot. She’d talk about a Crow that sits on our shoulder, cawing things like, “That’s nonsense,” and “How could you write that?” And she would tell her students emphatically: “Shoot. The. Damned. Crow.” For the author, the Crow is the niggling voice at the back of our minds. The one that says we’re unworthy of success or love, and don’t deserve to belong anywhere.  However, the author decided not to shoot his Crow. He reasoned that the Crow signifies the insistent self-criticism that comes from caring about our actions in the world – because we’re invested in what we do. Thus, we should learn to accommodate and live with our Crow, because it’s a part of our flawed, though basically good, humanity. Next, we must learn to embrace our Loyal Soldier. The figure of the Loyal Soldier is another metaphor the author deploys to describe the way our minds work. It uses the image of a soldier, cut off from his regiment, defending an isolated rock just off an island, armed with only an old rifle.  Convinced that war is still raging back on the mainland, the soldier maintains his watch on the rock, oiling his rifle, keeping up his routines, drilling himself in the rules of survival. These rules are: Stay small, don’t stand out, don’t make mistakes. The Loyal Soldier embodies our survival strategies. We might see him as the voice that makes us too cautious or unwilling to stand out. However, like the Crow, which is the voice of self-criticism, the Loyal Soldier – the instinct for self-preservation – is a natural part of us all. Rather than trying to reject him, we should learn to accommodate him in a spirit of acceptance. We should remember that he’s just like a protective parent saying, “Don’t hurt yourself.”  So, by acknowledging our Crows and Loyal Soldiers, and not beating ourselves up if we have a negative thought or a moment of doubt, we can be more at ease with ourselves and face the world with courage and openness.