|photo courtesy of Comfreak via Pixabay|
**You'll need a pen and paper for this exercise.
Creative people are designed to over-think. It's in our DNA. Due to our ability to imagine worst-case scenarios, we often use this talent against our own best interests by creating a negative mindset that sabotages our success.
Mindset work is the rage these days. Go online and you'll find a plethora of workshops designed to get to the root of your mindset issues, which is a good thing. I have had great breakthroughs from delving into my own root-causes for negative thinking and self-sabotage. Today, here on this blog, however, I'm speaking to the creative professionals who are prone to a self-destructive mindset more than most.
Have you ever looked at your finished painting or manuscript or sculpture and called it crap? Have you ever said the words, "what's the use? I suck?" Have you ever told yourself that you don't have time to be creative because your day job saps all your energy? Have you ever scolded yourself for choosing the hard path of the creative soul? Have you ever told yourself that it's okay to suffer for your art, that it's normal to scramble for every dime?
If you answered yes to any of the above, it's time to find out why those words come into your brain, confront them, and replace them with a new thought pattern whenever they arise.
As a creativity coach, I teach my clients to go waaaaaaay back to when they first started doodling on napkins, painting on walls, or scribbling in notebooks. What did the people around you say? How did they treat your artistic aspirations? Maybe you're only a five year-old with play dough in your cute little hands--did they scoff? Did they look at your masterpiece, pat you on the head, and dismiss your joy as silly? Or were you praised and encouraged? Free write what comes into your mind and how that made you feel--and how you would have treated that five year-old you differently, if that's the case.
What emotion comes up from those early memories of you expressing your creativity? Did you feel shame for being different or joy at being seen?
Do you hide now? Are you keeping the creative part of you a secret from anyone? Are you trying to legitimize your creativity by having a "cover job" so you gain approval from someone? Do you make excuses for your art? Do you disguise your pride in your work with self-depreciation? Why? Examine this without judgment--I am not judging you. Write it all out, be very honest with yourself.
Now write down all the criticisms you have of yourself and your work in the present day. Be harsh. Let the inner critic have his or her fifteen minutes of fame in the spotlight of your mind. When you're done, look at all of those things and, next to each one, replace it with a positive statement, one that encourages.
Most people don't make any money from writing, it's a ridiculous farce. (inner critic bitch statement)
A lot of writers make a good living from writing, it's actually easy when you put in the work. (replacement statement)
Your replacement statements need to be factual, not delusional, or else your inner critic will mock you from the recesses of your mind. Seriously. That bitch loves her power and isn't going to relinquish it without a fight so combat each of her (or his) attacks on your psyche with realistic, positive counter statements.
After you're done, ask yourself this question: which is true--completely true without a backstory shadowing the thought? What is true--the critic's version or the replacement statements? Which one serves your highest good? My bet is that the replacement statements are your truth.
Going forward, whenever you hear any of those negative statements start chattering away in your mind, stop them immediately and replace them with an encouraging truth. If you don't have a replacement statement at the ready, then simply listen to the negative statement and ask yourself, is this true? Is it really, really true? Am I am absolutely certain that's true? By the time you get to the third question, you'll most likely realize it's NOT true and is simply born from a past story that no longer serves you.
We as creative professionals must do the work to combat the inner critic who stands between us and ultimate success. Listen closely to your own thoughts and examine if they are helping or hurting you. If it's the latter, dig in and get to the root of why that's showing up so you can eliminate that thought pattern from reoccurring. Because depression is also a common theme amongst creatives, we need to be super-vigilant in recognizing our destructive thought patterns before they have a chance to send us into a downward spiral.
This will take awhile, don't rush it. We as creative professionals are too hard on ourselves in our pursuit of meaning and validation. By getting a grip on our minds, we actually change how we feel, how we create, and how we relate to the world around us.
You're not powerless. In fact, you are an incredibly powerful person who has the ability to control your inner chatter, create beautiful art via painting or writing or photography because you see the world through a unique perspective, and who is brave enough to risk traversing the unconventional path. You, my dear, are amazing.
Go forth and create!
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing & Creative Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing & Creative Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com.