Our Inner Boss is our Inner Critic—which can be even more more internally harsh than any outward criticism that comes our way as artists. That Inner Boss can assign us impossible tasks, berate us for failing to do things according to its rules, and never give us credit for all the efforts we have put into our creative expression. While I have written on this topic in many ways so far, here’s a new angle for you in this blog, with the help of a friend and fellow faculty member at the Therapeutic Writing Institute, Carolyn Koehnline.
Carolyn Koehnline, M.A., is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, clutter specialist, journal instructor, and workshop leader, with a private practice in Bellingham, WA.
She is the author of Confronting Your Clutter, an outstanding and highly approachable book on how to clear physical and emotional clutter from our lives. She also offers an online, coached, self-paced class called A Gentle Approach to Clearing Clutter. and works with people by phone and Skype.
One of the incredibly helpful things that Carolyn teaches us, is how to provide guidance for our Inner Boss, as a way of reframing our relationship with that part of ourselves that can undermine our creative expression. As you read her suggestions below, think about how you might apply them to your creative life:
Instructions for my Inner Boss
-Be very specific about what the task is.
Don’t trivialize or discount the work you are asking me to do.
Be realistic about the time it will require.
-Give me a reasonable schedule.
Be clear about when I’m working and when I’m free.
Build in breaks.
-Break down the job into bite-sized pieces.
Otherwise I’ll get overwhelmed and feel defeated.
-Express your appreciation frequently for all my hard work, outloud if possible.
Rewarding me with treats would be helpful too.
Assume that if you provide me with the proper tools, inspiration and support, I will do a good job.
Don’t demand perfection. Only ask me to do my best.
As you can see, this conversational tactic empowers us to be in a reasonable self-empowering relationship with our Inner Boss, and to negotiate with it, rather than having it run the show—and our creativity. In fact, it addresses many behaviors that are helpful to us as artists—giving ourselves permission, lowering unreasonable expectations, addressing challenges such as anxiety, procrastination, and perfectionism.
Whether we are needing to tidy up our studio spaces to make room for more creative expression or learn how to work with our Inner Boss, Carolyn’s work is invaluable to us all.
Check out her free online Confronting Clutter newsletter which comes out once a month. Each issue explores a different aspect of her gentle approach to clutter clearing.
And we’d love to provide you with whatever support you might need to empower your creative expression and your art career. You can contact us at ArtCoachingforyou.com