There are stages and seasons of uninspired struggle, despair, and lack of incentive to continue your art practice. As artists, we can get lost in this sea of struggle and lose focus. Losing focus can stall our movement and crush our spirit. But, there is hope! In this post, I will address how to challenge your inner critic and renew your art practice.
Asking Key Questions
First, you need to ask yourself some questions to determine what the struggle sounds like.
- Are you struggling with a lack of desire to engage in your art practice?
- Are you feeling “meh” about what you do create?
- Have you pressed “pause” when it comes to making decisions about your creative future?
- Are you comparing yourself to others who appear more gifted or qualified?
- Are you living in a cloud of negativity and despair about where your life is right now?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions, let me tell you, you are not alone.
The past three months, I have felt these the strongest that I ever have since I started my creative business. Instead of being proactive about this slump, I sunk deeper. Fatigue and despair had become the norm. Creating anything felt overwhelming.
As a result, I decided to get as proactive as I could. I engaged in a few practices that were manageable.
Journaling is an important process to stay connected to how our thoughts and emotions intersect. Getting words out on paper releases them from being trapped inside our mind, being free to take on a new, more meaningful form and function. (Check out this blog post where I share 25 Journal Prompts for Your Inner Critic)
One morning recently, I wrote this in my journal, “I am living in a sea of negativity. Lost, no hope in pressing forward – confidence shoved to the back of the line.”
The next thing that happened was a sentence that came to mind, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. Being a follower of Jesus, I believe the Holy Spirit gives nudges to draw us into connection with him. It can show up as that “gut feeling” or instinct too.
I also know that the good work of transformation starts in the mind. (I did create a whole course around this very topic…mmmh interesting). Holly Gerth, in “The Powerful Purpose of Introverts” shares that repeated thoughts create neuropathways in our brain and thankfully due to the brain’s plasticity we can change these pathways. Transformed by the renewing of your mind is not only a spiritual process but a physical process in our brains.
So, I looked up the verse and began to unpack what it meant and how it related to my current mindset.
Lectio Divina Practice
I find it helpful to look at scripture through the lens of the ancient practice of “lectio divina” which is a traditional monastic practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God’s word.
After reading Romans 12:2 out loud, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” I was curious as to what ‘renewing’ actually meant.
According to Strong’s Greek Concordance (further explains the original meaning of the New Testament text), “renewing” means, “completing a process, moving from one stage to a higher, more developed one, make new”.
I certainly wasn’t moving to another stage at all. I was stagnant but I didn’t want to be.
After reading the verse and half of Romans 12, I reflected on how my life was touched by this word.
Another part of the passage states (from The Message), “Let’s go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully trying to be someone we are not”
Okay, wow, that was powerful. As I looked at my behavior over that past three months, I saw that
- I wasn’t stepping into what I am created to do (there was no movement at all)
- I was being envious (of others)
- And I was focusing on what I really shouldn’t be (inner critic habits)
Recognizing Inner Critic Behavior
Before I could implement change, I need to recognize what needed work. Upon careful investigation I noticed that;
“Constant negativity in the form envy was present. I was wishing I had a licensing deal or a big collaboration of some small success. Because I didn’t and don’t know the “why” of things not working out, I was hesitant to pursue anything with an attitude of investment” (entry straight from my journal)
The end of the passage says, “don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone”. My version of “hitting back” was envy, jealously, and judgment. “Discover beauty in everyone” was a real eye opener.
Steps to Begin Renewing Your mind
Changing course involved calling out the harmful thoughts and behavior and implement a plan. Here are the steps that began to challenge my inner critic.
- ask for forgiveness for wanting something that isn’t mine and for spreading my bitterness around
- focus on what I love to do (make a list)
- focus on what I am good at (make a list)
- Call out greed, envy, comparison when it pops up
- Uncover negative thinking at its source (do an inventory of what my current mistaken beliefs are)
Started with uncovering the language of your inner critic by grabbing your FREE Workbook. “Become a Confident Artist – Overcome Fear & Create Your Best Work“ is your guide to confidently show up to your art practice and share your work!
If you like this post and have started implementing the steps for how to challenge your inner critic and renew your art practice, keep going! And if you are just beginning to challenge your inner critic, you can do this! Please share the love with a pin or a comment. Thank you!
Blessings from my house to yours,