If you have an inner critic, you probably know how judgment can debilitate creativity. You could tell yourself many stories of why you're blocked in creative work at times, but the real reason may lie in your past experiences.
Whatever the cause, the automatic response to fear is avoidance. And who could blame you! Self-criticism can really destroy your joy.
Two crucial phases in the creative process where it's best to avoid judgment:
1.in the initial phase of the work, and
2. again later, when the project has run its course.
1. Instead of what is right or wrong, the initial phase could begin with:
>>> Let's see what happens! <<<
This opens things up to experimentation and sets aside expectations and predetermined results. Before a thing comes into being, there are no standards of worth, nothing to prove or disprove, no way to value the act and its object.
2. Later on, towards completion, it is more useful to replace criticism with:
>>> Non-judgmental Seeing. <<<
Slow down, and carefully, thoroughly scrutinize and describe exactly what you see. This shifting your focus from judgment to description may sound simple and easy. In fact, it is neither. It is an extremely powerful, intellectual process that can reveal qualities of the project which would otherwise remain obscure. It yields vital information that can guide new work.
The thing you just made has never been seen before by anyone, including you, and the important thing - the only thing - to do now is to become acquainted with it. What good are all the undiscovered elements coming out of our hands until we are aware of them?
One reward of spending all this active seeing time:
Material comes forward from the conscious mind, but it also seeps up from the subconscious and the collective unconscious. This often expresses itself as seeming “accidents". These can turn out to be brilliant discoveries.
There are no accidents. The longer we look, the more we see. To see new things in a work we've created is to see new aspects of ourselves. The more we see, the better we see. The better we see, the better we can become.
Rather than ask yourself questions like: is it right or wrong? good or bad?
Try asking questions that change your focus to non-judgmental seeing:
1. How honest was I in disclosing what I know and feel in my heart?
2. How deep did I allow myself to go?
3. What range of new territory have I explored?
4. How close to the centre of my sense of self did I dare to go?
5. What really resonates within me as true in the work; and what is false or tinny?
How can you avoid judgment when your inner critic overpowers you?
It can't be stopped by pushing it away. Self-criticism is a learned behavior and meant to protect you from shame or wrong doing at some past time. What was learned and repeated becomes a habit, but habits can be changed.
When that critical voice next challenges you, sit with it and own it first. Then ask it insightful questions to assess its present worth to you.
1. How honest is this criticism in light of what I know in my heart to be true?
2. How deep does it actually go?
3. What range of old territory does it refer to?
4. How close to the centre of my sense of self does it truly come?
5. What really resonates within me as true in this criticism, and what seems false?
Then, to complete the peace-making, give it a job to do which better suits its talents. Your critical mind is good at scrutinizing for detail. Let it help you in non-judgmental seeing.
Why be limited to only seeing what you expect to see?
You can enlist the skill of this mind to help your creative mind find deeper meanings in what has come through you. After awhile, it doesn't seem so much that you are of two minds anymore. As you change this habit, you gain a more balanced approach in your own process.
The human mind needs to be educated, but it also needs to be illuminated. By being present, attentive, and reflective, our inner selves become less dependent on our critical minds to provide the answers or direction in our lives. This warming of our imagination may bring to life something unexpected.
Evaluate if you must, but evaluate the genuineness and the true origins of your work.
Evaluate the truth of your critical voices. Evaluate the truth of everything. Then choose. Only listen to the One authentic voice.
About the Author
Hello, I'm Celeste Varley and it is my passion to help people seeking spiritual development to find and explore their own inborn potential for visual expression. Once you learn a new way of seeing, you can access and express deeper feelings that are normally hidden. If this article speaks to your heart, you may want to see more “Fresh Horses" articles on my website. Check it out and see if it's right for you.
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