What is your Inner Critic?
It shows up differently for all of us, but somehow in a way that is so familiar. The self doubt. The feelings of inferiority. The fear. Each of us has an inner critic, and most of us has an inner critic that is healthy with a strong voice. How are you impacted by yours? In this article, we explore the role of the Artist's inner critic, and healthy ways to manage this inner voice.
Don’t Fight with the Critic
First things first. It's not a great use of time to fight with your inner critic. This is a fight you will lose at worst, and never stop fighting at best. You are equally matched with yourself, you see. Therefore, anything you can give your critic, she can fire right back at you. It is not productive to engage with her in this way. You don’t have to try to shut her up, or shut her down. You also don’t have to invest in what she has to say. Don't feel like that gives you a lot of options? Let's try an exercise.
Try this Inner Critic Exercise
Have you ever intentionally given your inner critic a voice, just to see how absurd/powerful/angry/mean/difficult/etc she can be? Let’s take some of her power away by exposing her. Perhaps just for the sake of the exercise, and not by way of practice, we will engage her in a dialogue (fully realizing this is a monologue ;) ) Write it down, as you go. It might look something like this:
Inner Critic: “You know if you drop the ball on one thing, everything will fall apart”
You: “I have feared that for a long time just because I was on my own for so long. That has nothing to do with this. But thanks.”
Inner Critic: “You know you are really not ever going to be good enough to be recognized. See that spot over there? It’s pretty bad. It’s showing all the other artists that you are pretty bad. See how no-one liked your piece when you posted it? They couldn’t even be bothered because it is just that boring.”
You: “Dude! Yikes! I actually like it, it came from my soul, and if you step back and gaze at it from your heart, it’s really quite beautiful. I paint from my heart. You are truly quite wounded.”
Inner Critic: “I have no response to that.”
You: “What would it look like if your criticism was constructive and not wounding?
Inner Critic: “…”
You: “Can you even do that?”
Inner Critic: “Can you even make me do that?”
When you are finished with your exercise, write a little bit about your experience and what you discovered about yourself and your relationship with your IC. What is something you can do differently as you move forward, in your relationship with it? Can you dramatize it, to take its power away? Give it a name that makes you take it less seriously? Repeat this exercise as a regular part of your journaling? Acknowledge it without engaging it? Add your ideas to your thoughts about the exercise.
An Inner Critic Story from the Life of a Creativity Coach
I have shared before that this past year, as part of fulfilling a life-long dream, I have taken up horseback riding. It is something that has challenged every part of me. Certainly the riding is difficult, but even more so, is the horsemanship. Horses are highly intelligent, and have a way of humbling you. Repeatedly. Especially my mare- she seems to know how I am feeling, where my weaknesses are, and exactly how to exploit them. She is demanding me to become a better horsewoman than I feel ready to be. So I regularly find myself at a juncture with her: push myself beyond my self doubt and fears, or walk away from my life-long dream.
Why Conquering your Inner Critic Matters
Believe me when I say I understand, both on a literal and metaphoric level, the challenges of facing self doubt, feelings of inferiority, and fear. I have faced them as an artist. I have faced them when my twelve-thousand pound horse challenges me and I have to challenge her back. But consider what is at stake, and consider the gains. Will you push beyond your self doubt and fears? Or will you risk walking away from your life-long dreams? Because when the stakes are so high, so are the rewards. Everything you want, Creative, is on the other side of that fear, that doubt, that lack of self-belief.
Do Something Important and Creative Today
I challenge you to face your self doubts and fears. I challenge you to confront your inner critic and show her you are the stronger energy. The bigger power. Do something important today to show up for yourself and your creativity and start your journey with Creativity Coaching. You can take one of these two steps right now:
1) Book a Free Consultation. All new clients to Creatively, LLC are entitled to a 15 min, free consultation to sit with me and discuss your needs, services available, and we can problem solve and hand-pick best next steps to help you succeed.
2) Book a Coaching Package. Are you a working Creative in need of specific support? I offer a range of Coaching Packages- let's get started with one that is right for you.
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is a Creativity Coach, Creativity Counselor and Professional Artist in Sykesville, Maryland. She provides Online Creativity Counseling in Maryland and Virginia, and Online Creativity Coaching throughout the USA, Canada and the UK.
The information provided in this blog is from my own clinical experiences and training. It is intended to supplement your clinical care. Never make major life changes before consulting with your treatment team. If you are unsure of your safety or wellbeing, do not hesitate to get help immediately.