“When we resist doing our art it’s because we’re resisting some deeper truth we’re not ready or willing to face. So when we find ourselves in that spot, we need a big dollop of self-care, kindness and compassion in order to be willing to create again.” ~ Chris Zydel
The term “inner critic” gets thrown around a lot in relation to the creative process. All kinds of suggestions are given for how to quiet the voice that tells you that what you’re making isn’t good enough.
We’re told to talk to our inner critic, write a letter to our inner critic, draw a picture of our inner critic and throw it in the trash, etc.
For whatever reason, inner critic exercises have never worked for me. It reminds me of working in a classroom with a student who has behavioral issues. If you put all of your attention on that child, especially negative attention, things go sideways for the whole class. Giving one’s inner critic a lot of time and energy has always felt like the wrong strategy to me.
So then what do you do if while you are writing, or making art, or creating anything the voice in your head keeps saying, “This is not good enough.”
A friend and I recently decided to try Kristen Neff’s eight Self-Compassion Exercises together. We do one and then email each other about our experience. We’re up to #2 Self-Compassion Break.
The gist is that when you are feeling like poo (e.g. an overly critical inner voice is stopping you from making something you really want to make), you say something along the lines of:
- This is a moment of suffering
- Suffering is a part of life
- May I be kind to myself
Personally, I have found this to be waaaaaay more effective than burning a picture of some mean middle school English teacher.
Instead, I’m finding that a more effective door opener to the creative process is:
1. Acknowledging that the repetitive “this isn’t good enough” voice is hurting me. (This is a moment of suffering).
2. Understanding that I’m not alone and that this experience is a part of the creative process that many people go through. (Suffering is a part of life).
3. Giving myself permission to be kind to myself. (May I be kind to myself).
My wish for all you wonderful readers as we go into the weekend is: May you be kind to yourself as you create.
Be sure to go to Kristen Neff’s site for the full exercise description. She has an mp3 of the exercise you can listen to as well.
Sunset photo by me.
2 thoughts on “May you be kind to your writing self”
This is wonderful, Britt. I too find that the answer to the inner critic isn’t to focus energy trying to quash it, but instead to focus on your “Inner Encourager” who speaks in the voice of compassion and support.
Thank you, Nancy ( : I love the idea of an Inner Encourager.