I stood in the dock. The courtroom was packed – lots of chatter. So much so I couldn’t still my mind. It took me all over, mostly to places of panic. The sound of the judge brought me back to the present. He cleared his throat and started his opening speech. He looked tired but not too fearsome, not like the smirking prosecuting attorney sat right in front of me. He was looking straight at me with a glint in his eye. Everyone else in the court seemed to do that too. 
I didn’t listen to the judge; I knew what was coming. The same old accusations and charges. His words flowed right past me. The attorney got to his feet. “Thank you, Mr Inner Critic, you may proceed”, the judge said to him as he sat back. 
“M’lud”, nodded Mr Inner Critic, and nodded in acquiescence. It was the last respectful gesture he was going to make in a while. “Ladies and gentlemen, you see before you today”, he paused for effect and pointed at me, “a broken man. Never enough. Always thinking he is letting people down as well as himself. Never achieving what he wants to achieve. Worrying about the future, regretting the past. So much so, he can barely hold a conversation without letting his mind wander on to his various shortcomings, and then asking everyone to repeat what they are saying.” As he spoke, everyone in the courtroom, nodded and the murmurs of agreement got louder and louder, I wanted to vanish below the parapet, go into a hole somewhere. 
Mr Inner Critic thundered on. “So tiresome! He can’t be a very good friend or partner, can he? No! Not when he is so wrapped up in his own problems that he has no time to help anyone else. He spends his time feeling guilty – ironically – for just about anything he ever does or says. And I don’t know about all of you in this courtroom today, but I am getting rather weary of it all”. 
He stopped, letting his words sink in as his echo died away. He glanced around at the court, then nodded at the judge. “The prosecution rests, m’lud”. 
The judge, looking rather unimpressed, sat up straight in his chair. He looked at me – his face under that wig, looked very familiar, rather like mine in fact. But then, his expression softened, and he gave me a hint of a smile, then he turned his head to Mr Inner Critic. 
“That’s not the only thing that’s tiresome is it, Mr Inner Critic?”, he said. The attorney gazed back at him, nonplussed. 
“All we ever hear”, continued the judge, “is you. The only voice we ever hear – is yours.” He leaned forward and looked threatening now. “We are all sick and tired of it. Imagine how he feels”, pointing at me, “listening to that all day. I know your job is to prosecute, and with that you intend to make him a better person, but I put it to you that he has no chance of ever reaching any peace or happiness with all this criticism and judgement.” 
You could hear a pin drop. I wanted to cry out, say something, anything, but I couldn’t – like all those dreams where you want to speak but are simply mute. 
The judge continued, “Where are the other attorneys, Mr Inner Critic? Where is Self-Belief, Confidence, Courage, Gratitude, Kindness, Balance, Positivity. They are simply not here, conspicuous by their absence. So, the only evidence of this poor man’s state of mind and wellbeing comes from you.” 
He leaned back. “It’s not enough. If there is no other evidence, I declare a mistrial. I thank you Mr Inner Critic for your comments. I am sure there is the tiniest shred of truth in some if it if we are to remain balanced. But it’s not the whole story. There is so much more to him than that, and in future, I not only want to hear from you – and I do accept that we need to – I want to hear from all those other attorneys too please.” 
The attorney looked crestfallen. His mouth opened and closed like a fish, but like me, no sound came out. 
The judge turned to me, a kindly smile spreading widely now. 
“The defendant is excused and exonerated of blame. And I will tell you very clearly, that you should not only listen to the voice of Mr Inner Critic, but all those others I mentioned too. Make sure the courtroom of your mind is properly staffed!” 
He looked out at the attorney, the clerks, and the gallery. 
“And that goes for you all. Thank you and good day.” 
End of blog. 
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