Creative Ways to Wrangle Your Inner Critic
I don’t think a discussion about creativity and authenticity would be complete without looking at your relationship with your inner critic. I myself have daily battles with the voice in my head I lovingly refer to as Dr. Degrader. And I have found that my inner critic, left to his own devices, can sabotage faster than a New York minute! So how do we create a positive relationship with this character? How can you wrangle your inner critic?
The age old adage that awareness is the first key applies here. When I am not aware and he is playing his greatest hits in the background of my mind, that’s when it all goes sideways. I have ways I remember to consciously relate to my inner critic. I firmly believe that making regular dates with your inner critic is a must!
Ways to Make Peace with Your Inner Critic
There are a few ways of dealing with the inner critic that really speak to me. One is from a teacher I met along the way. Her advice was to invite the critic to tea. She would say, “Remember that tea is happening in your house and you are the person in charge of the house, but the critic gets to be heard and seen. And when tea is over, the critic has to head home.”
The second, I just heard recently while doing interviews for my Self-love Summit. This international artist, Jessica Serran, described her process of getting a huge box and cutting a door in it. When her inner critic was rearing it’s ugly head, she would climb in that box, shut the door and write down whatever it had to say on the walls of the box. Contained, expressive and effective!
The third, which I have done, is to create a character. Give your inner critic a name, create an image, notice it’s language choices and other features. In creating a character, you give some distance between you and the inner critical voice which will help you observe more and react less. Dr. Degrader is a troll with a huge nose and a terrible slouch. He has angry, beady eyes and a scowl that never quits. He sits on a log wearing a loincloth and looks strangely similar in his facial expressions to Grumpy from “Snow White.” He has ugly glasses which just adds to his unsavory appearance.
Do you notice how it’s easier to have distance the more I describe who he is?
Making Time to Connect with Your Inner Critic
In the end, this is a relationship. So the more time you make for him or her, the better the relationship will be for you. If you are constantly butting heads, pushing the inner critic away, or trying desperately to ignore it the results will be painful.
The inner critic is a safety mechanism that you helped create a long time ago. It’s sole purpose was to help you be safe in the situations you were surviving. It likes to work and it wants to keep you safe. These two facts are important to note when dealing with the inner critic.
What he or she wants is simple, some of your time and attention. How you choose to make this happen can be as unique as you are, and there are simple techniques I have collected along the way.
- Have scheduled meetings with your inner critic
- Journal letting the inner critic voice guide what is being said – even if for only a few minutes
- Meditate on your inner critic and what it is trying to say to you and do for you
- Reassign the inner critic to new work
- Work with the inner critic to create a script you can both agree on for certain challenging situations
- Track how often your inner critic fires off by putting a penny in a jar each time you notice it in a day (or a paper clip, or whatever else you have an abundance of lying around)
Resources and Announcements
A few books have been instrumental for me on this journey:
- Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk speaks specifically to the creative process and relationship with your inner critic.
- Making Peace with Your Mind uses mindfulness as tool for managing your inner critic. Experts Mark Coleman and Tara Brach coauthored the book.
- Shut Your Monkey also offers great ways to understand and work with your inner critic.
An article I love is Working with Your Inner Critic.
Let me know how you work with your inner critic in the comments below.
The Self-Love Summit has been an absolutely amazing experience! The interviews continue to inspire me. Today’s is with Jessica Serran. In her interview she shares her story about working with her inner critic and it is so powerful! There’s still time for you to join the Self-Love Summit and catch up on the first 3 days of content. The free gifts have been amazing as well!
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