This guest post is from my amazingly talented designer, Dean Ward of Simple and Soulful Creative. She is the one responsible for the design of this website, The Style Academy. She is my digital angel and makes my life, as an entrepreneur, soooo much easier!
When I read her take on how she deals with her inner critic (ah, that pesky ego... always trying to defend and be heard), I knew I had to share it.
I'm writing content for a client website that helps women quiet their inner critic. The inner critic being a looping voice in your head that unravels, undermines, and underestimates your skills, abilities, and ideas by doubting everything. A real confidence killer.
Initially, I smugly thought:
"Thank god I don't have an inner critic."
And then this happened...
Last Saturday, after a mental and emotional eruption due to a computer that finally sputtered its last digital breath (leaving me a couple weeks behind the pace from all the inefficient work-arounds I've been cobbling together), I was on the treadmill storming angrily away when a creative piñata broke loose in my brain and showered bright ideas all around me regarding something I've felt creatively blocked about for months.
I just haven't been able to touch it.
Sick of the design.
Zero fresh content ideas.
Bored out of my gourd with what I'm supposed to write about.
And this has been hard because I love to write. If I don't write, I don't really know who I am beyond the mess of tangled thoughts that chaotically bounce around my brain. Writing soothes all that for me. Makes sense of it all.
I used to love my blog.
It's been good to me (hello SEO...don't think me ungrateful).
Now I just can't connect with it.
It no longer feels like the best container for the sorts of things I want to explore, share, and dream up.
Before Saturday I felt shackled by my blog, much like I felt when I was 22 and basically Pam at The Office in a dreary desk job, working for total boobs.
I felt like I was punching the clock on my blog, trying to write the same old boring stuff that every other designer writes about because that's just what designers DO.
Then—after that surge of pent up frustration burned off due to my computer crisis—I started to see (in vivid detail) an exciting path forward for my blog.
I'll share more about my blog newness next week, but first, let's get back to the idea of an inner critic—and me feeling pretty high and mighty that I was born without one.
So there I was... with the most intuition-infused idea for a new blog I want to build onto Simple & Soulful (like an addition on a house)...
And two days later a sneaky voice inside my brain started to question one little part of it.
And then another.
And then it doubted this and wondered that.
It went on and on and gathered crazy momentum.
It sounded a little something like this:
You haven’t seen others do it this way….maybe there’s a good reason for that.
You've read online business advice that recommends NOT doing it this way.
If you do this and no-one likes it or even cares, you'll feel embarrassed.
Maybe you're just being impulsive. You can’t stick with anything.
You don’t have the right experience or equipment to do this really well, so you risk looking like an amateur or idiot.
Maybe this idea is a distraction from something else you should be working on.
Are you serving others with this idea? Or are you serving yourself? Are you being selfish?
Do people need this? Will they even care about this?
Is this really going to help your business?
And there we were. Just me and my inner critic.
Why do we suffocate our brightest ideas with fear, doubt, and crushing overwhelm?
Why do tangle them with overthinking?
Why do we burden them so heavily with complications that they have no option but to sink to the bottom of our creative stream?
Why do we suffocate them with "practicality" until they no longer live?
I've read enough self-help books to know the answer to all those questions.
It's because trying something new means learning something new. It means taking a fresh route that could involve a steep climb or worse...a dead end (it could also be a joyful log roll downhill, but of course, we don't consider that).
Our inner critic LOVES us so much that it wants us to stay in our safe little bubble of normal so we don't have to experience discomfort, embarrassment, heartbreak, or failure.
That's a little messed up.
That's not our wisest selves speaking to us. It's our most scared selves cringing away from new opportunities.
It's creative suicide. With the best intentions.
So here's how I'm reassuring my inner critic and calming her into a sane place:
+ I'm treating her like a doting grandmother who grew up in different times. “I know you don’t understand what I’m up to. I know you want to care for and protect me from harm. But this feels right—down to my bones. And I trust I can handle whatever challenges come up —even if it means scrapping everything because it didn't work. Doing this and failing feels more exciting than staying safe but being bored. I've got this. I love you.”
+ I'm giving her some perspective. "You know…people aren’t nearly as interested in my doings as you think they are. You think all eyes are waiting, watching, and eager to pounce with judgment. But really? People have their own busy lives (that probably involve navigating boatloads of the own inner critic drama). And besides, anyone who does criticize with irrational venom is just an asshole, so they don't count."
+ We're reading this quote on my vision board together "Anyone who isn't embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn't learning enough." - Alain de Botton We do that because I want her stop fearing embarrassment. You just can't cringe your way through life and do cool stuff at the same time.
I thought I'd share this story with you in case you feel these things too somedays (and I'm guessing you do because you're human and all).
Simple and Soulful Creative