Our self talk often includes words that judge, accuse, create doubt, remove hope, and even give up on the things that we want most for ourselves.  Our creative abilities can provide us with our greatest fulfillment in life, and yet we don’t exercise it, thanks to the inner critic.  Creativity can be stopped in an instant with the simplest of negative thoughts.  Learning to manage our internal nay-sayer requires us to chase away the fears, inhibitions, and excuses that constantly appear in our path.

We have powerful reasons to create; it helps us use our potential, it connects us to our long-held dreams, it allows for a more interesting life, and it provides us with satisfaction and accomplishment.  We also have powerful reasons for not creating; it can be hard, it takes more energy than we may be accustomed to using; it sometimes provokes anxiety in us, and it presents the possibility of making mistakes. When we let the negatives outweigh the positives, we avoid things that make us feel uncomfortable, and compromise on our creative projects rather than test our own full range of talent.

How does your self talk impact your creativity?

We all have an inner critic, and we cannot escape it completely.  Even we we are aware, it seems difficult to stop.  The inner critic berates us, chastises us, and tells us things that we wouldn’t dare to say to anyone else, nor would we put up with it if someone else talked to us in that way.  Can you imagine if someone was actually saying all the things that your inner critic says to you and at the same level of frequency?  Unfortunately our inner critic will always be there, but it is possible to shift our experience of it, and self compassion is our gateway.  We can learn to rebalance our thoughts and open to a new voice – one of compassion – over time, we can turn down the volume of the inner critic and let go of it’s hold on us.

5 Techniques for managing negativity and the inner critic:

Positive Affirmations – Stand up for yourself and complete the following statement in 20 different ways: Even if I cannot prove it, I am creative when…

Practice Selfing – Are you willing to spend time alone to strive and be all that you can be?  Are you willing to take things off your excuse list to create valuable time for yourself?  Selfing requires you to clear time in your calendar for your personal endeavours.  Selfing is looking after your own personal development and well being.

Start a Positive Obsession – Choose a current or future project to fall in love with, and think about how fascinating/intriguing/exciting this project will be; think about how you are dying to get to work on it.  Think about it day and night, knowing it will be a rich experience.  Go ahead lose sleep over it, because you know how rewarding it will be.

One Minute Centering – When the inner critic overwhelms you, focus on your breath.  Breathe naturally for several breaths, and then slowly deepen each breath.  With each long, deep breath, fill your lungs on the inhale counting to 5, pause slightly, and slowly and completely exhale on a count of 5.  Do this as many times as it takes to get back to feeling centered.

Don’t Take Anything Personally – Taking things personally means deep down we are attaching ourselves in some way to what has been said or thought.  As soon as you attach to those words, the poison goes through you and you are infected and affected.  The opinions you have about yourself are not necessarily true; so don’t take what you hear in your own mind personally.  You have the choice to believe it or not.  Taking things personally sets us up for suffering for nothing.

Practice Awareness and Compassion

For the next week notice your inner critic.  In moments when you catch your inner critic, see it for what it is – just one of the many thoughts that occupy your mind today.  Laugh and say, “Thank you for sharing”, and let it go, and be compassionate with yourself.  By giving the inner critic less air time, we give it less energy and it dissipates more quickly.  When you hold yourself as naturally creative, resourceful and whole, nothing about you needs to be improved or fixed.

The more you value your work, the more the changes you seek begin to feel effortless, and the more you open the door for others to connect with your creative passion.

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This work by Joanne Dennis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.