POSTS & PROMPTS 7: Facing Your Inner Critic

Has it ever felt like you carry around your own personal Judge and Jury in your head?

The voice of the Inner Critic is LOUD, LOUD, LOUD. It sneaks in when we think we’re feeling confident, and it barges in when we’re feeling especially vulnerable. Our Inner Critic tells us we aren’t worthy, aren’t smart, aren’t able. It may be trying to protect us from failure, but it makes us feel failure before we’ve even started.

When we walk into the studio, our Inner Critic tells us we’re not artistic. It looks over our shoulders as we work on our pages and lets us know, in no uncertain terms, that our work is not beautiful.

Heaven forbid, we acknowledge our artistic talents! Then our Inner Critic announces, “You think THAT’S the work of an artist? How can you call yourself an artist when you produce something that [childish/ordinary/fill in the blank]?” A self-proclaimed artist has one of the loudest Inner Critics around.

Your creative life IS important. Say goodbye to your Inner Critic and hello to your Inner Artist.

The problem when you're doing art is that there you are, bringing your vulnerability literally to the table, and it's almost as if your Inner Critic can smell it a mile away.

"Ahhh...a nice, juicy, vulnerable heart! My faaaaaavorite!"

And yet, if you leave your heart out of your art, your work is superficial, inauthentic, and lackluster. Avoiding your Inner Critic by playing safe with your art--or worse yet, avoiding making art at all--means skirting the meaningful mess of your life. And what's the point? A pretty page? A safe page? 

Standing up to your Inner Critic means ignoring those messages that you've carried around for years in favor of expressing your deepest feelings and desires. Turning away from "You can't" or "You shouldn't" or "Who do you think you are?" means bravely painting, and writing, and scribbling, and expressing whatever comes up. 

Because you feel the urge to do it. You can't not. You must

Despite your hesitations, insecurities, and doubts. No matter how it looks!

Avoiding our Inner Critics by playing safe with our art--or worse yet, avoiding making art at all--means skirting the meaningful mess of our lives. 

The key is to just keep on facing down that voice. Take the wind out of its sails before it takes the wind out of yours.

I’ve heard it said that we need to talk to our Inner Critics, tell them “Thank you very much for trying to protect me, but I’m doing just fine.” I don’t know. I don’t feel much like talking nice to my Inner Critic. I want to show it who’s boss.

It might take practice. It might need to be done more than once (well, it will need to be done more than once!). It might need doing on a regular basis. 

But unless we say goodbye to our Inner Critics, our Inner Artists have nowhere to play.

And that's a crime.


If you'd like to art journal in response to this topic, I invite you to download my art journaling prompt (button below) for some inspiration. I like to think of art journaling prompts as little shovels, helping you to dig deeper into yourself. 

This is part of my weekly series of blog posts and art journal prompts. I hope you'll use these to enrich your art journaling practice. For more ideas about how to art journal, check out my Art Journaling Nuts & Bolts video tutorial series. Or, sign up for an in-person class or online ecourse with me!