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Silencing the Inner Critic: Finding the Courage to Create

by Lauren Fallat, LPC LPAT ART-BC

One of the most significant challenges to our mental well-being is the inner critic, an internal voice that often discourages us from pursuing our goals and undermines our self-confidence. The inner critic can be particularly challenging to overcome, but art and art therapy are powerful tools for challenging these negative self-talk patterns. In this blog, we will explore how art and art therapy can help us develop a more positive self-image, challenge our inner critic, and ultimately promote greater self-acceptance and self-compassion.

Art has been used as a therapeutic tool for centuries, with its ability to tap into the depths of the human psyche and express complex emotions that are often difficult to articulate in words. One of the many benefits of art therapy is its ability to challenge the inner critic - that harsh, critical voice within us that can hold us back from pursuing our goals, stifling our creativity and self-expression. By using art and art therapy techniques, we can learn to recognize and challenge our inner critic, unlocking our true potential and leading us towards a path of personal growth and healing.

The inner critic is an inner voice that constantly evaluates and judges our thoughts, actions, and behaviors. It is often characterized by negative self-talk, self-doubt, and a tendency to focus on our weaknesses or failures. The inner critic can prevent us from engaging in something we are afraid of by creating feelings of self-doubt, anxiety, and fear.

When we are afraid of something, our inner critic may tell us that we are not capable of handling the situation, that we will fail, or that we will embarrass ourselves. These negative thoughts can be so strong that they prevent us from even attempting to face our fears. We may become paralyzed by the fear of failure or the fear of what others might think of us. The inner critic can also make us feel like we are not good enough or that we don't deserve to succeed. This can lead to feelings of low self-esteem and a lack of confidence, which can further prevent us from taking action towards our goals.

To overcome the inner critic, it's important to become aware of our negative self-talk and to challenge those thoughts with more positive and realistic ones. It's also helpful to focus on our strengths and accomplishments, rather than our weaknesses and failures. By building our confidence and self-esteem, we can become more resilient in the face of fear and more willing to take risks and try new things.

Letting go of the inner critic when creating art as a therapeutic process can be a challenging but worthwhile endeavor. Here are some tips that may help:

  1. Acknowledge the inner critic: Recognize that the critical voice inside your head is there, but try not to engage with it. Acknowledge that it exists, but don't let it take control of your creative process.

  2. Focus on the process, not the outcome: When creating art as a therapeutic process, it's essential to focus on the process rather than the final product. Let go of any expectations or judgments about what the finished piece should look like and focus on enjoying the act of creating.

  3. Practice self-compassion: Be kind to yourself during the creative process. Remember that making mistakes or producing something that doesn't meet your expectations is a natural part of the artistic process. Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a friend.

  4. Experiment with different mediums: Try different art forms and mediums, such as painting, drawing, or sculpture. Experimenting with new techniques and styles can help you get out of your head and into a more creative space.

  5. Take breaks: If you find that the inner critic is becoming too overwhelming, take a break from your art. Go for a walk, meditate, or engage in another form of self-care.

It's important to recognize that our inner critic is not always accurate and can hold us back from expressing ourselves fully. By acknowledging the sources of our inner critic and practicing self-compassion, we can learn to let go of self-doubt and negative self-talk and create art that truly reflects our inner selves.

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