We all have an inner critic whether we acknowledge it or not. You may call it something else like liar, negative thoughts, automatic thoughts, But you don’t let it have to take control of your thoughts, emotions and actions. The good news is you can have control over your inner critic. You can learn techniques and strategies to challenge and silence your inner critic.
I will be specifically speaking to artists in this post as this is my area of interest and knowledge. You may identify some of your goals in the following list.
•show your collection online
•approach a publishing company
•share your work on social media
•showcase creations through your website
•create a consistent practice
•sell your work
An overwhelming inner critic is the one area that can completely stall and end an artist’s journey if left unchecked. In this post I will explain what your inner critic is, what it sounds like, how and when it shows up, how to silence your inner critic and build in habits to take control of it when it appears again.
What is the inner critic?
The inner critic is an inner voice comprised of negative messages or thoughts that we unconsciously repeat to ourselves which become ingrained debilitating habits.
Fear in our lack of value is at the core of the inner critic. The inner critic focuses on what we are not. We are worried that we are not enough; not competent enough, not qualified, not deserving. (not as good as “that artist”, not trained enough etc.)
How is the inner critic formed?
The inner critic begins with a negative experience or series of experiences. These could be labelled as triggers because they set off a sequence of reactions.
These messages or negative experiences are filtered through our current value system or lens that comprises our personality, family history and life experiences.
Perception is a lens through which we interpret the message. This perception of the message or event is met with our personality; inescapably who we are (who we have been created to be) and how we respond are closely connected.
Thoughts that have been formed then perpetuate feelings that we tend to label as positive or negative.
Feelings and thoughts lead to a response of action or inaction. We may decide to not show our work on social media because of fear of rejection or the belief that we are not good enough. Multiple negative beliefs from others can push us to make vows.
We repeat these thoughts in subtle ways (often subconsciously) and then it becomes habitual to think a certain way.
How does the inner critic show up?
How can you learn to recognize what this looks like for you in your creative practice?
You may start to notice that you feel self critical and doubtful about who you are as a creative and the work that you do. As a result, you are unable to show up and share your work.
Here are a few common areas that may appear to indicate the inner critic has center stage.
•irregular creative practice
•fear of charging your worth
These “fears” or the inability to face and follow through with challenging your inner critic means that you do not share your work and no one else sees your unique talent and the value you offer.
When does the inner critic show up?
The inner critic can try to sabotage the work that you do privately, preventing you from starting, continuing or completing your work.
It can sound dismissive to others’ compliments or constructive criticism. The inner critic can also show up in public spaces such as the following:
- when you speak about your artwork
- sharing your work on social media
- when writing about yourself
What does the inner critic sound like?
It may sound like any one or more than one of these type of thoughts.
- I cannot take risks
- I am not good at my art
- I will never make money at my art
It may show up more specifically as an imposter and sound like the following.
- I have no right to call myself an artist
- Someone is going to find out that I didn’t get formal training for my craft
- Someone else is already doing what I am doing
The imposter may show up as being critical towards another artist or deleting posts that didn’t get enough likes.
The perfectionist is another tone that the inner critic takes. The following are what the perfectionist may sound like.
- I have to be perfect
- I am going to fail
- I am not organized enough to follow through
The perfectionist may show up with appearing to have it all together when in reality you do not. You may scrap work that doesn’t measure up to your expectations. Or it may be that you have a hard time accepting praise.
How to silence your inner critic?
You first have to make friends with your inner critic. This first step is foundational and critical. If you do not have awareness, you are unable to make changes. Making friends with your inner critic is foundational but also ongoing.
You will never completely cut out your inner critic. Like pain, it is a signal that something is wrong and needs attention. That is precisely why you need to make friends with it. It will guide you and help you grow into an affirming, motivated, confident creative.
The more you know the more you can make changes. You become more in tune with your triggers/what sets you off. When you start tracking what your inner critic sounds like, where it shows up and when it shows up, you will be less surprised, more prepared for what to do next and be able to move through making necessary adjustments to your inner critic quicker.
It is important to get to know your inner critic well then you will be prepared for future times that your inner critic will catch you off guard. You will move into productive mode versus reactive mode and move through awareness to taking positive action quicker. You will be less weighed down for less time. This means more time to focus on your creative endeavor
How to challenge your inner critic
In order to makeover your inner critic, you need to directly target the lie and replace the lie. It is not simply good enough to call the message your inner critic is sending a lie, but it needs to be given a complete makeover.
The only way you can start to infuse truth into your creative practice is to dismantle the inner critic, which is that inner voice that is lying to you. You can choose to continue to believe the lie or move toward rewarding change.
1. Identify and challenge the lie
Learning how to silence your inner critic must come from a place of belief; belief that you are worth more than your inner critic commentary. You must ask yourself “where does my belief in who I am and my worth, come from?” It is your choice, just as it is mine, who you choose to listen to. We often have voices from our past; employment, friends or family of origin, whose messages still are loud and functioning.
So what is the lie and what is the truth? Think of what you would say to a friend – does it build up or tear down? The lie is always negative, debilitating and creates a feeling of inadequacy.
2. Replace the Lie with Affirmations
Remember, you can choose who you listen to out there in the world. If we have a choice in who we have allowed (often unknowingly) to influence our inner critic, we also have a choice who influences our worth.
Belief in your worth is practiced, not automatic. Now that you have the foundation and the tools to create new affirming beliefs, you are ready for the retraining part.
Affirmations contain truths that directly counter our fears or mistaken beliefs. Initially it will be difficult to believe these counter statements. You must remember that you have practiced rehearsing the fears for years so give yourself patience to start implementing the new beliefs.
Affirmations are short, concise “I” statements in the present tense that you are working towards believing. They affirm what you desire rather than what you might want to get rid of.
Take a look at my post on How to Create Your Signature Artist Affirmations to start creating new habits.
To get the complete guide to learn how to silence your inner critic, you can access it HERE.
I hope you have enjoyed this post and now know how to silence your inner critic. If you like this post, please share the love with a comment or pin.