It is common knowledge that artists live with an inner critic. You may have never called it this, but once I describe it, will be all too familiar. Think about your worries when you create something, “This isn’t good enough”, “What if no one buys my work?” “How can I call myself an artist?” In this post I will share how I overcame fear and self doubt as and artist and how you can too.
In my experience, seasoned artists and creatives have been known to say, “Just deal with it, every artist does”. “Just walk away from your creative practice for a while and you’ll feel better”.
But there has to be a better way, right?
Where it all began
I started my art practice in my teens, but I was so fearful of sharing my work due to low confidence and fear of what others would say. So I eventually gave up my art practice. I had no one in my corner, no support and I was always comparing myself to others who were so much better than me. How could I ever call myself an artist, let alone “someone who draws”.
I felt the call back to create almost 25 years later. The option of not creating wasn’t an option anymore. I pulled out a watercolor set that I had for years but as a young adult I said, “I can’t” as I was too scared to start. “How do I do this? What if I do it wrong? What if someone sees my work and is critical?”
By the time I was ready to pull out the paints, I had done a lot of inner critic and affirmation work. As a result, I was able to apply to my newfound love of watercolor painting.
This inner critic/affirmation work started when I was 25. It was in my first year of graduate school for counselling. I had no emotional boundaries and no confidence. What everyone said about me, I claimed as truth. I was craving understanding, a voice of my own and solutions to get out of my emotional mess.
What made the difference
In order to achieve confidence, I had to shift from self critical to worthy and hopeful. To learn more about this I turned to personal counselling, my faith, and affirmation work. Even though I didn’t believe I had talent and ability to be a counsellor, I chose to believe that my supporters weren’t lying. That was the beginning of choosing to dismantle the lies my inner critic was telling me and replace them with affirming value statements (or signature affirmations as I call them now).
And it is my mission to help as many other female artists do the same. I created “Become a Confident Artist” to help women artists go from discouraged, self critical and creatively stuck to confident, fearless and making meaningful work.
As a creative, do you struggle with confidence?
Even though I share a lot of freebies and tutorials, I held back for years sharing my creations because I feared failure. As creatives, you and I can be held back due to negative thinking. It might look like comparing your ability to others or not having the confidence to pursue your creative talent or putting your creations out into the world.
Is that you? Have you ever found it difficult to cope with imposter syndrome, your inner critic, fear of failure, perfectionistic tendencies, and being hesitant to share your work?
If your answer is yes, I have a Free resource for you. It’s just a click away!
What the process looks like
Making friends with You Inner Critic
Making friends with your inner critic is foundational but also ongoing. You will never completely be rid of 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. You will be able to make necessary adjustments to your inner critic quicker.
Don’t let any more time go by, get a start right now on recognizing your inner critic with this FREE step by step guide called, “Become a Confident Artist: Overcome Fear & Create Your Best Work”
The inner critic is an inner negative voice that originates from past experiences, environment and the view you have formed of yourself as a result of these environments and experiences. The inner critic involves a judgment of the creative process and a possible halting of all creativity. Check in with how you are talking to others about your creative process. What are the words and tone you are using? Here are some examples to help you with how to recognize your artist’s inner critic.
What does your inner critic sound like?
- I cannot take risks
- I am not talented enough
- It is impossible to make money with my art
- My art practice is a waste of time
- I fear others will criticize my dreams
- My dream is ridiculous
Check out my post on How to Recognize Your Artist’s Inner Critic to learn the specific words and messages your inner critic tells you.
Making Over Your Inner Critic
You start by targeting the lie of the inner critic by a series of challenges. This gives it no legs to stand on. Sheryl Garrat, in her post, “Working With Your Inner Critic“, calls this process “questioning its advice”. She suggests giving your inner critic a name, personalizing him/her and writing a letter to acknowledging that you no longer need her to protect you from your fears.
The following example uses questions that are designed to be a conversation with yourself. One part of you is the critic and the other is the coach.
Let’s practice with this statement – “My art practice is a waste of time”
- What makes this true? If I work on my art, it takes away from other things that are more important.
- Is there a place and time for art practice? Yes, I guess so
- Has this come true in the past? Believing that my art practice is a waste of time? Oh sure.
- Then why are you still doing it? Because it is important to me.
- So there is value in making time for your art? Yes, I guess so.
- What is the worst that could happen? I will spend too much time on it and not get other things done.
- What is so bad about this happening? The other things will have to wait.
- Is that really so bad? No
This technique will quickly create an awareness of why you may be experiencing a lack of confidence as an artist.
Creating Your Signature Affirmations
Because we will always have to manage our inner critic, tracking our belief in our signature affirmations is one essential way to track success. Through tracking our belief in our affirmations gives us the visible proof that we are changing, growing and becoming more of the creative we want to be.
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.
What do affirmations do?
1. Address Your Worth
Changing the 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. 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.
2. Dismantle the Lie
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.
3. Replace with Truth
Affirmations focus on the good, not the negative. Remember, what we feed grows. Affirmations directly counter and challenge the negative thought or fear which in essence is a lie. And lastly, they build in healthy new thought habits that become the catalyst to greater, long term positive change.
If you are ready to make friends with your inner critic and challenge its lies, grab your free e-Book below!
I hope you have gained some tools through this post. If you liked what you read, please share the love with a comment or a pin. Thank you!