Summary: How do you continue to create when you have someone sitting in your head?
Transcript of Tackle Your Inner Critic
Good morning and welcome to Episode 3 of The Frangipani Creative Podcast.
It’s been two whole months since my last podcast and while I can give you a laundry list of reasons about why it took so long to get here, I’ll just apologise and say sorry that it did.
Today I’m going to talk about that guy (or maybe it’s a woman!) that lives in your head. That inner critic. That voice in your head that keeps you from being creative, that judges you, that criticises you and sometimes demeans you. That voice that sometimes tell you that you’re not good enough or gets you to compare yourself with someone else. Why it even stops you from starting on new creative projects!
There are a couple of ways in which I deal with my inner critic and I’m going to share them with you.
One is to make your to-do list smaller and once you complete each task, you celebrate! 500 words, one small illustration, one graphic – all these are worth celebrating no matter what your inner critic list. When you make your to-do list small, it’s easier to tackle and please, please don’t compare yourself to anyone else!
Then take your goals one day at a time. Break them down. Finish a step a day. And then again celebrate. Every little thing matters.
Remind yourself that your inner critic will say whatever it takes to stop you from trying new things or starting new projects.
Remember, that the inner critic just accuses. It doesn’t use facts. So just tell it to ‘shut up’!
But most importantly, have you listened to your inner critic’s voice? Have you figured out how old he or she is? What’s his or her gender? How does it dress?
Give your inner critic a name. It’s a lot easier to say to your inner critic, “Oh, Jimmy! I know you’re scared but I’m going to keep writing, painting, whatever…” than to argue with some ghost! So name your inner critic. Create a character for it.
And the last step and something that I found really useful is to write a letter to your inner critic.
I’m going to read to you a letter I wrote to my inner critic a few years ago. Here goes:
I have something to tell you, my inner critic. I have given you a name. I have given you a character.
I call you Cassius, after the character in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
Why? Because Cassius had a major role in getting Brutus to kill Caesar. That’s exactly the role you’ve been playing in my life. You keep encouraging me to kill my creativity.
You, Cassius, are insidious, subtle and wily. You find various ways of telling me that I’m not good enough. That I can’t write. You creep into my mind and make me compare myself to others.
Over the years, it’s not just my writing you’ve attacked, but my choices, my personality and my self-esteem. You’ve got your ever-willing workers who are happy to convey your messages to me. One subtly questioning my behaviour, another one questioning my choices, the third telling me to get my head out of the clouds.
But your biggest weapon, that works almost every time with someone like me, is to get another person to say they need me. Off I go to ‘rescue’ them, always putting their need before my own. Putting their gifts, before mine. To paraphrase Julia Cameron, I have ‘squandered my own creative energies by investing disproportionately in the lives, hopes, dreams and plans of others’.
Not anymore, Cassius. You can kick and scream, throw a tantrum and tell me I’m selfish. I’ll just cock a snook at you and go on my merry creative way. I’ve given into you and your vassals for too long.
It’s time to claim my mojo back. It’s time for me to nurture my creative spirit.
I have something to tell you, Cassius: Be gone!
Yes, that was my very dramatic letter to Cassius. And honestly, it really helped me in more ways than one – not just my creativity, but it also helped me to be more assertive, to stand up for myself a lot more.
Try writing a letter to your inner critic too.
I’ve got another exercise for you and that’s going to be in my blogpost called ‘Stomp on Your Inner Critic’ which is on The Frangipani Creative blog. It will be out shortly.
See you next week. I’m hoping to be on that every Thursday podcast like I promised.
Have a very great, creative week and take that inner critic to go take a jump!
Take care. Bye!