Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk: and Other Truths about being Creative.

Inner Critic-Cover
Inner Critic-Cover

I just finished reading a fun book about the “inner critic” that plagues us all in different ways. It was written by Danielle Krysa. The illustrations by artist Martha Rich are fun and just in themselves chase away the inner critic with their whimsy. We all have an inner critic. The inner critic surfaces when we draw or paint, entertain a new idea or set a goal that is a push for us. Our inner critic seems to wait for these wonderful moments to intercede with doubts and rationals why we will not be successful. Blah, to the inner critic!

Some suggestions that the author, Danielle Krysa suggests:

1. Give your inner critic a name. Choose something non-threatening like Gary, Lydia, Sheldon, etc. You might not always get along, but this trick turns that big scary voice in your head into a dude named Gary. Tell Gary to sit down and shut up, because you’ve got stuff to do.

2. Say Thank You. This sounds easy, but it’s difficult. When someone compliments your design, art, writing etc say THANK YOU, instead of responding with an itemized list of flaws! You might have to bite your lip at first, but every time you do this your inner-Gary loses some power. And, as a bonus, it makes you so much more pleasant to talk to.

3. Say it out loud. What does that voice say to you? Mine usually calls me an amateur. Write down the jab that your inner critic uses, and then say it out loud. Like, really loud, and preferably at someone else—a friend, spouse, co-worker. I know that sounds mean, and that’s because it is. If it doesn’t feel good to scream it at someone else, then why on earth do you scream it at yourself?

4. Write it down. After you yell those mean words, grab a scrap of paper and write them down. Next, flip your paper over and write the positive opposite. For example, mine would start with, “You’re an amateur—you have no idea what you’re doing”, and would become, “Everyone starts out as an amateur—the only way to become an expert is to keep going every single day, which is exactly what I’m going to do.” Pin that up on your wall, and repeat this process whenever the I.C. says something mean.

5. STOP MAKING EXCUSES!  Every time you make an excuse not to be creative or work on your goal—i.e., you need to get groceries, I will start tomorrow, my house is too messy—your inner critic has the upper hand and is winning.

So I am going to take my excuses, write them on pieces of paper and throw them in the garbage can with the smelly tuna fish can and soggy coffee grounds. I will get out my sketchbook and draw everyday because I love it, finish the half done painting and follow my “thoughts” for what I want to do next. 2017 will be full of days when I just make stuff!!

Happy New Year and thanks for reading.