This summer I went to a Illustration conference called ICON in Austin, TX. It was an amazing and inspiring time, I met some of my heroes of illustration and many amazing artists. The first couple days we went to workshops where we learned tips and tricks from the masters and then played with some new materials and processes that they taught us.
In these workshops, faced with the idea of creating something new, the room was full of voices like “this is the worst cat I’ve ever drawn”, “I don’t know what I’m doing”, “I don’t normally do this” “I can usually draw better than this”.
I’m used to hearing this from my students, but it struck me that these illustrators, some who have been doing this for much of their life, still had the same struggles with self doubt as I did or as anyone who is beginning an art practice.
Whether you are just starting out in art or have been doing it a long time, the struggle is the same! How do we deal with that negative nagging voice in our own brain and get on with the fun part of creating?
Be in the moment. Ground yourself and take a couple of deep breaths. Close your eyes and begin to feel your body. Observe what it’s doing/ feeling. Do you feel nervous or excited? Where are you feeling those emotions in your body? We want to ground ourselves so that we can get in touch with our intuition FIRST before that voice takes over.
Recognize it. So much of the time we are on auto pilot just absorbing everything the Inner Critic has to say. This voice can not only bring us down, make our body feel heavy or painful, but it can also muddy our own Creative Voice so that we can’t hear what it’s saying. Once we can stop, and recognize this voice, we can thank it for trying to take care of us and ask it to take a break.
Remember what’s important. The Inner Critic thinks that safety is top priority. This is the part of the brain that remembers all of those times that you have put yourself out there and been terribly shot down. So, logically, it thinks that you should never put yourself out there. But, the only way to let go of that egocentric thinking is to remember WHY you want to try something new. For me, I’m a curious person, so trying new things is important to me. Maybe for you, it’s letting go of an old process or routine, or just having some time to play. Whatever it is, remember why you are taking the risks you are taking and that it's important.
Embrace your badness. As much as our logical brain hates this idea...we are going to fail sometimes. So embrace it! When your Inner Critic tells you that you will fail or that you suck, say “So what? Who cares?” The only way to get better is to fail, so embrace it!
Know who you are. The Inner Critic loves to tell you that you are the sum of your accomplishments and that you will never be good enough. But you are not what you do, your value does not depend on what you create. You are a valuable, lovable, unique person who deserves to explore the depths of your creativity. When you embrace the fullness of your being, it doesn’t matter so much what that negative voice in your head says - or what anyone else says.
So, enjoy your creative explorations no matter if you are a beginner or experienced. Tune into your Inner Artist instead of your Inner Critic and move forward!
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