Updated: Feb 11
When it comes to creative work, we can put obstacles in our own way without even realizing it. And, when we're unaware of how it's happening, it's far harder to prevent.
So how does it happen? As it turns out, the very best way we stop creative progress is by being unkind to ourselves.
It’s understandable that we do it. Most of us were raised in a society and an educational system that points out what’s wrong rather than what’s right in our behavior.
In striving to achieve or succeed, many of us have internalized patterns of thought and self-talk that simply aren’t conducive to sustainable creative growth.
But ask yourself this: when you focus on what’s supposedly wrong with your behavior, how do you feel?
Is there tightness or contraction in your chest? A quickening of your breath, maybe? A sense that, overall, things are just not going well?
Try a different approach.
What happens in your body when you soften towards yourself, and show yourself compassion? What happens when you give yourself credit for what you’ve done (even the tiniest of steps towards your goal), and let yourself have a small inner celebration?
Most of us find that there’s an expansiveness in response to this. A lightness. And it leads, unsurprisingly, to an increased sense of self-trust. Which, in turn, leads to more creative flow throughout your life.
Next time you're aware of a self-critical thought when it comes to your creativity, simply pause. Make note of it. Then inwardly pose a couple of questions:
Why might I be struggling?
This question opens you up to self-compassion, which is a powerful foundation from which to understand yourself and your experience.
Was your sleep not so great last night? Did you skip a meal today and not have a chance to make it up yet? Are you, oh I dunno, currently living through a global pandemic?
Any of these things--and of course many more--can plunk a roadblock down into our day. Let yourself notice your current experience, then show yourself kindness in light of it.
And for the next question, try this one:
What have I done well today?
Find anything---even something tiny---that you've done well today. Whether the answer pertains to your creative work or not, giving yourself credit for any win puts you in a positive frame of mind.
Did you brush your teeth today? Do that one little task that's been bugging you for a while? Or, hey, did you possibly make it through a few more hours of the aforementioned global pandemic? Good for you. It counts.
Focusing on what went well rather than what didn't allows for the start of an upward spiral in your thinking, which leads to all kinds of goodness throughout the rest of your day.
Try this out next time you feel yourself being pulled under by self-criticism, and see what happens. And, once you do, shoot me an email and let me know what you've discovered!
To learn more about how to design your own most fulfilling approach to your creative work, sign up for a free 60-minute Discovery Session. I'd love to speak with you!