How to silence your inner critic and create fearlessly

How to silence your inner critic and create fearlessly

On this special Diwali episode of the Art with Soul Podcast, as we celebrate the victory of good over evil, I’ve got a quick little tip to help you silence your pesky inner critic! Because let’s be honest, as an artist and creative, your inner critic can be particularly loud – and mean. And that’s never a good thing when you’re approaching your craft, is it? You’ll find a written transcript of the podcast {edited for readability} below.

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A very Happy Diwlai to you and your loved ones! This is my favorite time of the year – the festival of lights, with the entire house lit up with lamps, marigold flowers and Ashoka leaves adorning the house. I just love it!

As we celebrate the victory of good over evil this Diwali season, I thought this would make for an interesting topic to explore from the perspective of our art and creative practice.

Now before you wonder how art and evil go together, let me assure you, there’s nothing remotely evil or even bad about your art practice itself! What is “bad” is the negative thoughts you often have around your art or the time you spend honing your craft.

That negative voice is your inner critic – the one who is constantly telling you that you’ll get “it” – whatever “it” is – wrong, that you’ll fail, embarrass yourself, or that no one will like or connect with your work.

That voice that always wants to holds you back and keep you feeling small, that’s the one I’m talking about!

So, this Diwali, how about a quick tip little for silencing that inner critic?

Now, there are numerous suggestions and ways in which you can quieten your inner critic. I’m sharing the one exercise that had the biggest impact on me when it came to silencing my own inner critic.

And that is, naming your inner critic.

How to identify your inner critic

First, you have to identify her, or him, or it – however your inner critic shows up for you. I tend to use her because that’s how I identify my own inner critic.

When it comes to identifying your inner critic, the first thing you need to do is to figure out what she sounds like. Maybe your inner critic sounds like an authority figure – one of your parents, or a teacher you had in school – or maybe your inner critic, like mine, sounds just like….you!

Once you’ve identified the critic’s voice, try and define her. By which I mean, create a character sketch of your inner critic. Is she bossy, prim and proper, holier than thou, a perfectionist?

Based on the voice and the character sketch you created for her, how do you think your inner critic looks? Even if you don’t want to imagine a fully-fleshed out figure, try to imagine how she would dress up and carry herself.

Finally, give your inner critic a name. Preferably one that will make her seem less controlling.

Why naming your inner critic helps you to be yourself

Naming your inner critic is an excellent tool to help you quieten its harsh words. It works so well because when you name your inner critic, it loses some of its power over you. You recognize that you’re not the problem, and you don’t need fixing. The real problem is that you believe everything that darn inner critic is telling you.

When you can recognize that the voice that is constantly holding you back from creating your most authentic art is not you but your inner critic, it makes it much easier to disentangle your vision and ideas from her naysaying.

The exercise in action: Meet my inner critic

Going back to the exercise, here’s what came up for me when I was identifying my inner critic.

My inner critic sounds just like me. When I identified her voice, though, she sounded very authoritarian and very prim and propah. I pictured her as miss goody-two-shoes, dressed flawlessly, with not a hair out of place. Pretty much the opposite of me, really!

I named her Prissy Missy.

Every time she reels off with her litany of reasons why I will fail, or how I simply do not have enough artistic or creative ideas and so I should stop thinking of myself as an artist already, I imagine her as the prim and propah little lady that she is, and that breaks some of her tyranny over me.

So the next time you’re at the painty table, and your inner critic shows up with all her prophecies of doom and gloom and failure, just say “Oh, that’s Prissy Missy, my inner critic”. That will help you remember that the inner critic isn’t YOU, and allow you to move forward with whatever you’re working on without her rants and admonitions holding you back.

I hope this little tip helps you on the art table – and off it!

If you have any suggestions for future podcast episodes, or feedback on the podcast, please leave them in the comment box below! And if you have any tips on how you deal with the inner critic, leave those in the comments too!


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Posted in Mindset for artists, The Art with Soul Podcast.

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