How Your Inner Voice is like a School Bully

Does any of this sound familiar?

  • You could have done that better

  • That is a dumb idea

  • No one would like that

The worst critic any person has is their own inner critic. The following phrases from above are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to any individual person’s inner voice. This is the voice that keeps creators from creating. This is the voice that keeps many people from achieving what they call ‘their dreams’.

How your inner voice affects you and your work

If you ever felt inspired to create, you remember how excited you felt as you got ready to take your inspiration and turn it into reality. You reverted to your seven-year old self and there was nothing that could stop you from using your skills to create.

After five or ten minutes, you then step back and look at your work.

Your inner voice speaks up, reminding you that you could never replicate the vision in your mind into reality. It mocks you for even trying and that excitement you felt dies down. You suddenly realize that there are probably other ways that you should be using your time. You then stop trying to create. Due to a lack of practice you become rusty in what used to be your bread and butter.

You lose your discipline. You lose the inner fire that used to fuel your creativity.

You go through “writer’s block” and nothing you create is good enough.

When you do create, the vicious cycle starts over again.

Your inner voice is not you

If you learn nothing else today, then know that your inner voice is not you.

All those thoughts that spring up in your mind is not who you are as a human being. It is a defense mechanism that jumps up to stop you from unlocking your potential. It stops you because it is not logical to be creative. It’s safer to be predictable and average.

This is why you must first understand is that the inner voice that criticizes every move you make, is not you.

I first discovered this concept from Julia Cameron’s “The Artist;s Way” where she distinguished the difference between you as an individual and the inner critic. If you are curious in learning more about my Artist Way Adventure, I actually wrote my experience a while ago.

This was critical to my creativity and knowing this will help you as well.

How to combat your inner voice

Once you understand that the inner voice is not you, then you can get started on standing up to it.

We’ll go over three ways to combat your inner voice so you could stop thinking and start creating. The best part about these solutions is that they are low cost and can be implemented as soon as today.

1: Words of Affirmation

In your journal (digital or traditional), you will write a phrase. Feel free to use one of the ones below to get started

  • I am an artist

  • I am a creator

  • I am a creative individual

Then you will write the next sentence or phrase that comes to mind. Initially the next thought that will follow will be your inner critic telling you that your statement is false. For every negative thought that comes up on your paper, you will write something positive and affirmative about yourself.

For those of you who are visual learners, I’d highly suggest for you to use two colored pens to do this exercise. This way you could see how frequently your inner critic steps in to interrupt you when you are being great. When I first did this, I spent 15 minutes doing this and when I took a look at my journal I could not believe my eyes. I consider myself a generally positive individual but the conflicting colors on the page spoke for themselves.

I then continued this a few times, each time my inner critic would have less and less to chime in with. After all with each time that it piped up, I already had a comeback to shut it down. I’d find the ratio of colors on the page go from equally pink and blue to mostly blue.

2: Use Prompts to Jumpstart Creativity

15 minute prompts are a great way to combat your inner critic. It does not fight against it in an active manner, but it allows you to simply create without high expectations. Prompts are just quick thinking exercises for you to respond to something for a short period of time.

At 15 Minutes of Creativity, we believe that prompts are a great way to start creating just for the sake of creating. We have a 10 Week Challenge that is specifically made to get creatives out of the rut of creative blocks so they could just start doing.

When you start creating, you find that the adrenaline from creation will overcome the inner voice in your mind. If it does not, then just take a deep breath, do a different exercise and then try another prompt tomorrow.

3: Start Meditating

The act of meditation is another passive method to combat your inner critic.

Meditation, from what I understand, is the act of acknowledging the thoughts that pass by your mind, but not dwelling on them. From the brief amount of time that I experimented with the app called Headspace, they compared meditation to watching traffic drive by. You sit on the side of the road, you see all the brightly colored cars drive past you, but you don’t follow them or hitch a ride on them. You just see them, know that they are there, and let it go.

Meditation admittedly is an art, but it is one that could greatly help with nullifying the effect of the inner voice so that you could create in peace. As I mentioned before, Headspace is a good app to use for meditation or the other is Calm.

What are your thoughts on the inner voice?

Do you have a rocky relationship with your inner voice? Do you have your own techniques to silence your inner voice or inner critic so that you could start creating? We’d love to know your thoughts.