As artists, we are all uncomfortably familiar with the negative self-talk that we hear within our heads. This kind of chatter can be debilitating to the point where it can block or stall us in our creative expression. “What do you think you are doing?” “This is horrible!” “How can you possibly consider showing that work to anyone?” “Let’s face it, you’re not good enough, and you never will be.”
Sound familiar? The good thing is that we are not alone in experiencing this. In fact, it is a normal occurrence for people who are taking any kind of risk to be assailed by critical self-talk and irrational belief systems that we have probably carried around for a long time. The question is what can we do about it?
I see lots of advice out there about how we should tell the Inner Critic to either shut up or get out of Dodge. I disagree. In fact, I think there is another strategy that can work well and yield surprising results—and that is to figure out how to be in relationship in a kind way with that part of our selves.
As I have undoubtedly mentioned before, the Inner Critic is an archetypal defense system that we have inherited from our ancestors who always had to be on the lookout for sabertooth tigers. The part of our brain that is designed to help us survive also makes us hyper-vigilant—always on the look-out for what might harm us. So the Inner Critic becomes the voice that ironically berates us most harshly for taking potential risks that might harm us….in order to protect us from hurting ourselves further if we actually followed through with those risky choices.
In that way, the Inner Critic is our steadfast Protector. In therapy language, it is also a Part of the Self. It works 24/7 to make sure we are safe and not going to make choices that will hurt us. Given that, why would we want to tell it to shut up or to leave the room? That’s just not being kind to a part of our Self that has been tirelessly devoted to taking care of us for forever.
This doesn’t mean we have to endure negative self-talk or to allow it to freeze us in our creative process. In fact, there are lots of fun and effective strategies for working with the Inner Critic to turn it into our ally. Really fun!
So…if you feel ready to make good relationship with that Inner Critic, contact us at artcoachingforyou.com