We people have this wonderful thing called the mind, and we somehow tend to rent a part of that mind to an ungrateful, nagging, aggressive piece of a jerk.
There were times when I even rented every room available to this good-for-nothing bully. Who’s this fella then? (In my mind, the bully is a he, but the gender makes no difference, a jerk is a jerk.)
You know that voice that tries to color everything negative each time you create something? The minute you pick up a pen or a brush, there he comes. Nagging. Looking down on your art. Provoking. Judging. Such a pain in the neck. An uncreative pain in the neck.
I’ve heard this jerk is usually called an inner critic. It’s an official and fancy name for the old stinker. He’s probably been inside your mind since your childhood or early adulthood.
Maybe he formed when someone once told you that your creativity was not creative at all. The truth is, words are powerful and they tend to stick in our minds for a long, long time.
A story about my inner critic
We all believe the voice. We take it as true and logical, and with time, it becomes our integral part. Well, this inner critic of mine has been with me for as long as I can remember. He even deserves a name.
I’ve known him longer than I’ve known my best friends. The two of us have had a rough path together. And he got used to winning the battles against me, until I said no more. At least, let’s make it a tie!
This guy was freaking me out. I wasn’t creating anything for months because I chose to trust the nagging voice. And when I created, I ended up hating it because, in his words, no way this is proper art. Proper art? Come on!
So, I had to do something about it. This moment when you choose to fight the jerk is the moment you realize you must look after yourself because nobody else can.
You are responsible and you must take action to silence the inner critic
Imagine you are in a relationship with your inner critic. Because you are. I’ve realized that I had to embrace the critic but hold him on a leash. He is going to speak anyway, but I choose how to react to that. Above all, my reaction is all that matters.
In any relationship, only you are responsible for your reactions and actions, no matter what the other person says or does. When you realize that, you will see how the critic confuses and crawls into a hole. (Yes, that is possible!) And that’s your inner artist’s time to shine.
I have developed habits and actions to take in order to shut the bullying voice in my head. I’m sharing them with you so you could get rid of that renter, even if only for a short time. Send him away on vacation or something. But let him pay the expenses!
How to silence the inner critic (aka the jerk renter)?
The advice I’m sharing with you today is all about action. Actions are a major thing here. Remember that: if you take firm action, you will silence the inner critic. Especially when it comes to your art. Don’t let him stop you from creating.
What can you do to send that stinker away and out of your way?
1. Mindful exercises
Mindfulness is being aware of your surroundings, your ability to be fully present in the now. If you are aware of your feelings and senses at the moment, you are being mindful.
Don’t worry if this confuses you a little bit. Mindfulness is an integral part of us, but we still need to practice it every day.
For example, think about the last time you were in nature, surrounded by greenery, colors of trees or flowers, the smell of earth and plants, the sound of loud birds or a river’s rush.
This kind of atmosphere overwhelms you and you tend to close your eyes, take a deeper breath and smile. Sounds familiar? That’s one example of a mindful moment.
Now, let’s dig into a few mindful exercises you could do to silence the inner critic.
# Meditation with positive affirmations
I’m sure you are pretty aware of what they are, but no hurt in reassuring we’re on the same page. If you were comforting a best friend who thinks her artwork just sucks, what would you tell her? All positive things, right? A positive affirmation is basically a sentence packed with loving and reassuring words.
I already mentioned that words are powerful. If somebody’s words can create and encourage an inner critic who sticks to us like glue, who is rude and can sound agressive, then imagine what good positive words can create!
For instance, someone gives you a compliment. A compliment is a set of nice words, right? Well, how do you feel at that moment? You feel gooooood! You feel good because of a few words.
I’ve been using positive affirmations for years now. I believe in their power because I have managed to transform my mindset just by having a habit of saying the affirmations to myself.
You know that jerk all of this post is about? He is a lot quieter now. Oh, I’ve hit him hard. I had no mercy. He’s got bruises and all. To his misfortune, my self-confidence in creating art has grown tremendously!
# How to create positive affirmations?
You should write these positive sentences on a piece of paper. Be very specific with your affirmations. For example, if I wanted to feel more confident about drawing, I wouldn’t make a positive affirmation something like this: I am talented. I would be more specific: Each day, I am getting better and better at my drawing skills. Or: I am getting more confident in drawing.
The thing is, nobody can do this for you, but when you set out to write these affirmations, you will see how exciting it is, and rewarding, too.
So, why not make yourself giggle with joy just by choosing the right words and mindfully saying them to yourself, and to your inner artist. It is as easy as breathing.
# Put it into practice.
To put it into practice, think about what you’re really struggling with inside your creative world, and evoke the feeling you would like to have about this particular thing. Then write as many positive things as you can. Think about your dream outcomes. Does anything stick out?
Next, combine the words into one positive affirmation and promise yourself you will use them always. Stick it above your craft table, at your desk, in your wallet, or in your art journal.
Here are some examples that might help you:
I am growing as an artist every day.
My creativity is free and flowing.
I am satisfied with what I create and it brings me joy.
I am creative in everything I do.
I only let the positive into my life.
My inner artist is stronger than my inner critic.
# How to use positive affirmations?
Before you fall asleep at night, when you are calm and relaxed (take a few minutes to breathe slowly and relax your body), say this to yourself: the words I’m saying become my reality. Then say your affirmation as many times as you feel the need.
Even better, if you fall asleep while saying it, this only means that it is then translated to your subconscious level. (Which is pretty neat because much of the powerful stuff goes on at our subconscious level.)
# Believe in what you’re saying.
BUT, there’s a catch. It is a really, really important one. You have to believe in what you’re saying.
When you speak out the positive affirmation, it must come from the heart and with the intention of putting the words into practice. Your intention to make them true has to be strong and precise, not letting doubt to mess up the process. These things need practice, so give yourself some time to learn to trust the process.
# Say it in the present tense.
When saying these affirmations, you should always use the present tense. Why? Remember mindfulness? We know nothing about the future and therefore we can’t influence it.
But what we do know and feel, what we can have an immediate effect on, is the present. That’s the purpose, to evoke the good feeling about yourself and live through it in the present moment.
Or to picture it this way: by saying affirmations in the present tense, you instantly poke your inner artist saying this is how we feel now. And your inner artist is so impatient for you to talk to her this way. (Well, if my critic is a he, then I sure want my inner artist to be more like me, a wonderful she.)
2. Use art journaling to silence the inner critic and win one battle at a time
I’ve used my art journal against my critic. He hates it, but guess who loves it? My inner artist. I enjoy providing that for her. So, how do I do this?
I write down some of the negative stuff I get from my critic. The harsh ones that can really get me on a bad day. I open my journal and write those icky and lousy words on a page. Then I paint over them. They get buried under the thick layer of paint, positivity,
If I feel I haven’t done enough, I write on top of that coat of paint. I choose one of my positive affirmations that negate the dreadful one that’s six feet under, and just lay it on the page I’ve done. I give it some friendly attention, and I make it beautiful.
Inner artist 1- 0 inner critic. (He didn’t see that coming!)
3. Practice visualization and make the critic crawl into a hole
I love this technique because it includes vivid imagination and daydreaming. Yeah, you heard me. Use your imagination to tailor what you want for yourself.
Basically, visualization is a process where you imagine a situation you would like to happen. Remember how I said that you must believe in your affirmations to see their results? A similar thing comes with practicing visualization.
The key here is to really be involved in
Create that situation where you have already accomplished what you want, and experience the feeling as if it was true. As you breathe, evoke the feeling, and live through it.
Make this a habit. If it only makes you feel better at that particular moment, it’s worth the effort. (At that very moment, the jerk is in his hole figuring out what the hell just happened!)
Silence your inner critic today!
Remember, nobody is responsible for your thoughts but you. If you don’t take action, you might as well live dreadfully ever after with your inner critic. I know you want to silence that voice. It takes practice and effort, but it’s worth it.
You’ve taken the critic seriously so
Start today with a single affirmation, write it in your art journal, make it pretty, and use it. Remind yourself of the positive in your creative world. One battle at a time.
Create the environment for your critic to feel uninvited, isolated, and unimportant. And you achieve this in your mind first. That’s where he rents, right? Well, make him feel unwelcome.
If you want to read more about finding inspiration to create art, read this post where I share some ideas on finding inspiration.
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