How Your Inner Critic Can Help Heal Your Life

Every once in awhile it’ll creep in. The familiar voice that berates me for not publishing a book yet. The nag that tells me I’m not talented. I’m not “good enough.” The critic who agrees with every insensitive attack on my soul.

It’s a shame spiral that starts from a little splinter of a comment or an insensitive remark and then I’m done. I’m broken and it isn’t even noon yet.

{Gratitude wood sign by the5donalds}

{Gratitude wood sign by the5donalds}

Shame. Guilt. Self-sabotage. The inner critic.

These are goblins that haunt the life of a creative person. They harp on those who are sensitive, vulnerable and raw from years of being told they’re not enough.

But underneath the layers of dark viscous suffocating hurt, there is hope.

Recently, I was enlightened by a podcast with author Elizabeth Gilbert and Sounds True’s Tami Simon. Here is a snippet from the Insights at the Edge interview:

“I had a really helpful conversation recently with a friend of mine, who I really admire [and] who I think is quite spiritually evolved. I just said to her, “What do you do with your shame? Where do you put it? What do you do with it?” And she said, “You know, Liz, you realize that the world doesn’t want your shame, right? That’s got nothing to offer the world. You’re here to offer yourself to the world and to make the world a better place. And your shame is of no use to anybody. It’s not of any use to you either, and if you want to be a creative and generative person, you kind of just have to let it go.”

There it is. Shame doesn’t serve you. It doesn’t make your dreams materialize. It doesn’t make you more creative. It’s not even motivating. When we’re ashamed we want to do nothing, but hide.

What shame does is shut us down like a scolding mother. It makes us feel unworthy, unlovable, and not good enough.

You know what transforms your life? Gratitude.

The next time your inner voice decides to kick you when you’re down. Tell it, “Thank you!” Thank you for sharing. Thank you for being there because I know you’re only there like a shell protecting me, like a blanket sheltering me from hurt, pain and disappointment from others. Thank you, but I don’t need you anymore. I’m whole. I’m going to be okay. I’m enough.

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Using Art to Move Your Life

{Not all sharing is a good thing. An alley wall full of chewed up gum.}

I’m currently taking Brene Brown’s The Gift of Imperfection Life Class. That along with twice a day walks, listening to Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s free Destiny meditation and cutting out refined and processed carbs has completely changed me inside and out. It’s slowly lessening the gap between who I am on the inside and the me I show the world.

One of the things that has specifically shifted is my intention of being authentic, expressing my true self and using artistic expression and creativity to push me forward. That sometimes means dragging a paintbrush across a canvas, decorating a room, or writing down a poem. Sometimes I share it here. Other times I hide it away in a book.

When do you share and when do you keep things to yourself?

In Brown’s class, she discusses what it means to be vulnerable. Sharing what we feel is vulnerable is one way we release shame. {Kind of like this poem I wrote here.} The difference with sharing too much and sharing enough depends on your ability to be okay regardless of the feedback.

The same thing may happen if you’re deciding whether to share something deeply personal with the world. Maybe it’s a dream, a secret, a trauma, an amazing accomplishment, a fear…Whatever it is feels terrifying to share. But secrets can eat you up from the inside. The only way to freedom is through reaching out. The key is to be very discriminative about who you choose to share what to.

I’ve made this mistake too many times in entrusting my precious thoughts, feelings and dreams to people who couldn’t hear it so they a) criticized it b) tore it apart c) told others about it. In the end, expressing my dreams felt dangerous and left me feeling wounded. What I learned in the process it that if I could use art and creativity to work my way through what felt hard and personally dealt with it, then I had the inner strength to share the work with those I loved, trusted and felt safe around. And that in return, felt wonderfully healing.

These days, social media makes sharing all too easy. When we’re pissed at a friend, a relative or a boss, it’s so easy to vent but so hard to take back what’s been sent.

Here’s my suggestion.

The next time you’re going through a rough situation. Put a pause on blogging, updating and tweeting to the world. Instead open up a journal, write down your thoughts or take a pen, crayons, pencils, paint and draw it in on a canvas. Then when you’re ready and not depending on what others have to say about it, share it with those who are near and dear to your heart.

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Be Shameless

{via pinterest originally from}

There’s been something weird going on with me lately. Or maybe it’s been like this for awhile. I noticed that every time I create something, I have a tinge of something. Something that comes from a deep place, but difficult to put my finger on.

Then, I started getting signs of what it could be. I was watching The Rosie Show the other day where she devoted an entire segment to the show Shameless. The word carried so much meaning with it. It stayed with me and haunted my thoughts for awhile.

And then I was thumbing through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and landed on page 67 on Shame. She says:

“Those of us who get bogged down by fear before action are usually being sabotaged by an older enemy, shame.”

While she says that art actually shines a light on shame, the wounds we carry from our childhood tends to gloss over that. Shame comes from our parents who wanted to keep us from coloring outside the lines. It comes from our friends who taunted us for being weird. It comes from those who wanted to keep us in the norm so that we couldn’t threaten them with our own innate power.

And as adults we keep slipping right on over it. Every time we create something, we are walking on that tight rope again. Will someone think our creation is less than? Will they think, “How dare she think she’s talented?” Or, “Who does she think she is for creating that?”

It’s a deep-rooted fear that haunts me whenever I write a post, send out a tweet, or share an update on Facebook. It’s the fear that someone will point me out and claim that I am a fake.

How to be Shameless

In the end, while feeling shame is common in creating, I realized that I don’t want to live this way anymore. Instead of repressing the hurt that comes from shame or telling yourself that it doesn’t matter, that your art doesn’t matter, why not embrace a life of shamelessness?

What does this mean?

It means telling your inner voice that:

1. you are courageous

2. that their negative review doesn’t sum up your life

3. that your art is simply an expression, not an extension of you

4. that your own way of creating is special and you don’t have to seek the approval of others to know this

5. that you are worthy just for the sake of being alive.

*The winner of this happiest book giveaway is Cory Clay. Congrats Cory! Let me know what you think of the book.

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