Today, artist and author (not to mention mother-of-two and grandmother-of-one), Lynne Harkes shares a few meaningful words on how to deal with your inner critic – Through positive visualisation, Lynne offers a couple of creative strategies on how to cut off this insistent bully.
As an artist, nudges and doubts about my work, both during and after completion, are often delivered to me by my internal critique. The doubts that arise from these encounters with this pervasively negative measurer of my creativity often unsettle me deeply and this web of self doubt can weave and knot itself into all areas of my life, not just the art domain.
I’ve recently been busy working on a large commissioned canvas and have been wrestling with an orchestra of these deflating chants. There’s the notion that my client might not be happy with my work and that it may fail to match the brief, or that I may stumble into my easel with my loaded palette and deposit a heap of unwanted paint in un-required places. There’s even the thought that one day the client will awaken to a muddy puddle of oil and painting medium that has slipped entirely from its decorative position on my canvas to congregate in a pool of disaster on the floor.
The ego abounds in all arenas and can initiate confidence sapping thoughts to arise in the head of young mums embarking on the journey of motherhood. How many of us have doubted our abilities in the face of a baby who just will not settle, or a toddler who point blank refuses to go to bed. So, what are these voices of doom and despair and where do they come from? What’s more to the point, how can we deal with this negative and unwanted coaching?
These voices, our inner self-critic, can be attributed to our good old friend “the ego”. If there’s one thing the ego likes to do, it is to interrupt subconscious flow, confidence and even joy by delivering messages such as the above. The ego self is the antidote to surrendered flow, it is fear-based and has the ability to halt and interrupt us just at the moment when we are flowing and happy. The ego has a job to aid and assist with our survival and I often feel that rather than attempting to ignore the elephant in the room, we are better to acknowledge this harsh critic by giving some thanks for the ‘warning’ but declare that we are on track with our flow.
One of the greatest ways of re-grouping from the sort of derailments above and getting yourself back on track, is just simply to take a few moments to breathe deeply and surrender. Some people find that affirmations work well to re-establish positivity and release, such as “I surrender to my highest good and know that I am supported and loved”.
I particularly like the image of a dandelion clock and visualise it held in my hand as I breathe the seeds away. For me I think this imagery works to encourage exhalation of breath and instant release of tension. It also conjures up childhood pastimes of blowing seeds from hundreds of dandelion clocks and the freedom and carefree spirit of childhood. For those of you blessed to be in the company of young babies and children, allow their freedom, non judgement and acceptance to influence you and encourage the surrendered state.
Have fun with whatever you opt for to reframe these negative spins and remember that every one of us works with this challenge from time to time and often on a daily basis. Be kind to yourself and congratulate yourself for even noticing any negative thought arising to take you away from your happy centre, that is a step in the right direction in the first place! The more frequently you experience a surrendered bliss, the more often you will want to get yourselves right back there and the easier it will become.