FOILING THE INNER CRITIC
I recently had two falls (one my fault & the other not) which left me with a broken elbow on the right side and a broken wrist on the left. The big problem is that I’m left handed! So there goes hand writing and painting for a while.
It brought me to thinking about what I can do creatively in spite of my breaks and even more so to what it means to be creative, all together. First, not being able to use a limb has certainly made me appreciate my generally able body. It has given me lots of respect for those with permenant challenges. Their bravery and adaptability greatly inspire me. I think they are really creative, being able to imagine themselves and a way they do things that’s different from most of us.
I’ve always thought of myself as a creative person, even though my teachers growing up did everything they could to disabuse me of that idea. I was always craving the opportunity to make something or solve a problem. In fact, I took up weaving (you should see the loom in my attic), plastic sculpture, magazine writing, buying and selling handmade crafts, product design, advertising and interior design before I found what I truly love doing.
During my first pregnancy, I spent hours complaining to a therapist that I wanted to “do something creative”. Each time, she admonished me that I was doing the most creative act possible- making a person. But it felt like my body was doing that without my volition. Only after that did I go to design school to discover what was right for me.
In this long journey of being an artist, I have learned a number of things which have helped me when I am overrun with doubts. First of all, everyone has a creative spirit. You don’t need to paint like El Greco or write like Emily Dickenson, you need only to find the creative expression that is true to you.
One is very lucky if they can find someone who encourages them in this endeavor. But it is not necessary, as we all have an inner child who loves to come out to play. With some encouragement and a few skills, our inner child is on it’s way.
Our inner critic is only one opinion, sometimes speaking in the voice of someone you know well. They are distractable and easily engaged, so if you get busy, they become occupied with what you’re doing and don’t have time to get in your way.
Being in action is the best foil to self doubt. When you are involved in doing, you become immersed in the process. Just the act of making something lets you engage your left brain, taking you deep into the experience, suspending time so you can feel the joy of the process. It is not so much what you make but the experience of making it, that will bring you pleasure.
I am very inspired by a quote from Marianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”