New perspectives open creative flow
1987. I lovingly created a handmade present for my husband. Calligraphy with dip pen and India ink. Placed in a brushed nickel oval frame. I don’t remember the quote, but it had the contraction for ‘I have’ in it. He pointed out how I misspelled ‘I’ve’ because I forgot to add the ‘e’.
The embarrassment and mortification I felt at such a simple oversight has stayed with me. It added to the mistaken belief that everything I create must be perfect.
And that’s nothing but a load of manure.
This is something I’ve struggled with. The inner critic.
The 100 Day Project asks us this week to consider the voice or feeling that arises and tries to kill creativity. When it really gets my attention, what is it saying?
Think of all the negative things you tell yourself and that’s what I hear too. I’ve read it’s important to picture your inner critic, (IC), as some kind of demon. To put a face or shape to it. I’ve heard that creative blocks are nothing but resistance. Procrastination isn’t laziness, it’s fear. Or avoiding creative work may be caused by anxiety.
A bunch of labels and an equal amount of solutions: a course, a workshop, vision exercises.
Yet here we are, still fighting with the IC. I dug deeper this morning and asked WHY? WHY does the IC even exist?
Those things I mentioned earlier—fear, resistance, anxiety, sure, yes, of course. That’s part of it, but where did these emotions originate?
The answer may be trauma. Past trauma. That’s the concept I’m considering right now.
Wouldn’t it be utterly fantastic if we could snap our fingers and every past horrible, no good, awful event or circumstance we ever experienced simply disappeared?
That’s sorcery and not going to happen.
So what do we do instead? We apply salve to an open wound, slap a band-aid on it and hope for healing.
What if instead we processed that grief? Acknowledged it?
Would that help silence the inner critic?
I asked the question this morning you see in the photo. “Who am I if I’m not the person I’ve been in a habit of being?”
After some thought, I find I don’t know the answer.
I’ve been in the habit of accepting who I am as the way it is and the way it will always be. No room for change. No room for living without the ache of the pain from the past. I’ve become comfortable with this habit. I’ve let the IC dominate nearly every creative thing I attempt.
My reactions to the IC have been to shut down, ignore, block, hide, and avoid all creativity.
What if there’s a better way to deal? New ways to react? Healthier habits to choose and practice?
What if we ask different questions and dig deeper?
Last I checked, no one is holding a gun to my head demanding I beat myself up for past mistakes. My family nor my friends benefit from my self-punishment.
So I ask this question, in a different way: “Who am I if I’m not actively engaged in dancing with my past pain?”
The answer I came up with:
I’m a freer, spirited being. Lighter than air, able to write all the words and paint all the pictures. I’m a person being who I’m meant to be. I’m a person, being.
I rather like that answer.
P.S. In the first version of the question I painted, I misspelled the ‘I’ve’ by leaving off the ‘e’. When I noticed the mistake half an hour later, I laughed out loud. Then went back and added the ‘e’ with a flourish and a smile.
P.P.S. I do not claim to know the answers. This is all a big experiment. But when some thing, some idea floats to the surface and it offers some encouragement, maybe a new way to look at things, then in the spirit of it reaching someone who might need it, I share this with the hope it lands where it’s needed.