You know what they say about people that talk to themselves so I always did my best to ignore the pessimistic thoughts that would arrive each time I considered moving forward with my creative career or thought about creating a piece of work that was a bit risky. Eventually my self-doubt took on a voice of its own, and I could hear it!
Who are you kidding, you are not good enough!
Who do you think you are?
Why would anyone want anything you made?
You do not have time for this.
You cannot afford this.
Have you cleaned the toilet, yet?
You cannot paint with those cheap brushes.
There are so many real artists out there that are so much better than you.
I was sure I was about to be handed a one-way ticket to the rubber room!
I cannot tell you how relieved I was when the book “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron mentioned this negative self-talk as perfectly normal for creatives and even gave it a name, “The Creative Censor.” All I could think of was Whew! I am not nuts! Although this acknowledgment was a huge personal relief, I was very disappointed that the only recommendation to resolve this ugly situation was to ignore it. Ignore it?
I accepted the well-meaning advice but soon discovered that ignoring the creative censor can quiet the self-doubt for a while, but it will not make it go away for good. The censor’s message of inadequacy that undermined my self-confidence in the beginning was now gaining strength. Each time I ignored the censor, the volume got louder and the small nagging voice was now a rampant screaming fear paralyzing all of my creative efforts.
One day, out of sheer creative panic and desperation, I literally shouted back
“What the hell do you want?”
“Where did you come from?”
This ridiculous moment of befuddled bravado was the first time I talked back to the censor instead of surrendering to it or ignoring it. It was the beginning of the most significant and surprising dialog of self-discovery and healing.
Me: What do you (fear) want?
Censor: I want to protect you from other people not liking you or your work, I want to keep you safe, I want you to be secure.
Me: Where did you (fear) come from?
Censor: From childhood teasing, Unsupported creative dreams, Occasional creative failures (we all have them).
The censor, with its fear messages was not the self-destructive monster I need to avoid at all costs. The censor is delivering lessons I need to learn. I cannot ignore them anymore, I have to listen and I have to engage in the dialog.
“Where is this fear coming from?”
“What is this fear trying to protect me from?”
“Is the fear real?”
We all have the choice ignoring the lesson of fear or thanking the censor for delivering the fear and the lessons that lead to creative strength and self-confidence. However, to fully access these lessons we need to engage in the dialog…
but you know what they say about people that talk to themselves.
Cheryl Jones Evans http://artistswaypages.blogspot.com/2011/02/you-know-what-they-say-about-people.html