Inner Critic vs. The Intern

At the beginning of this year I set the bar very high.  I thought completing my short-term goals within a certain timeframe would be a cinch.  Ha, what was I thinking? Every time I step out of my comfort zone, I hear the voice of the inner critic acknowledging all of my mistakes.  Why can’t I give myself permission to make mistakes as I learn new things? 


As an artist, I’ve hit many walls on the road to discovering and nourishing my creativity.  When the inner critic rears its ugly head the angst I feel is multiplied and I’m at war with myself. I’m tired of the inner critic kicking my butt and telling me that my ideas aren’t good.  I’ve had enough, I’m firing the inner critic!


After graduating from the Art Cloth Mastery Program based in San Antonio, Texas in March of 2012, I thought about hiring a coach.  I needed help to work thru my fears and doubts about moving forward as an artist.  I worked with a creativity coach, Laurie, who is a fiber artist as well.  I was intuitively aware of my internal blocks.  In a span of a few months I learned practical steps to overcome them.


During our coaching sessions Laurie would share her practical wisdom.  As I discussed my goals and plans with her, she would recommend guidelines for goal setting that were simple and effective.  The plan needed to be simple, doable and executable with a specific deadline.  


I was forced to be honest with myself.  I had to find the balance between my goals and what I could realistically expect of myself given my time constraints.  I’m a one woman show, I don’t own a hive of worker bees dyeing, sewing and creating on my command.


For most of my life, success was defined by the results.  I found that in the midst of writing my plan and being a good taskmaster my definition of success began to change.  What if I show up to the event with an inventory of tie-dye t-shirts, scarves, canvas bags and an appealing booth display and it still flops?  What if I don’t sell any t-shirts?  Does this mean I’ve failed?  Am I only successful if I sell my mixed media art?


Instead of having fun, I would catch myself obsessing and worrying about the results.  “What if I don’t sell any t-shirts?  What if no one likes the original, one-of-a-kind hand-dyed bags I’ve designed?”  I had allowed my mind to be hijacked by fear.   At this point the inner critic was relentless with the barrage of negative comments.  The inner critic wouldn’t let me rest!


During our phone consultations, Laurie recommended a few tips to bring myself back to the present.  She suggested that I wear a bracelet as a physical reminder to have fun and enjoy the process.  We also talked about  detachment.  I was familiar with the process of detachment and sometimes I’ve applied this principle to my life.  Unfortunately when my inner critic is kicking my butt it’s difficult to detach my emotions from the situation as it unfolds. 


Laurie also advised me to journal about the inner critic and creative ways to deal with my dilemma.  After a few journal entries the intern persona was born.  I even wrote little notes to myself that I posted in my apartment about firing the inner critic and hiring an intern to do the grunt work.


I had an intern to do the dirty work.  By definition the intern’s position was unpaid, but the intern was now empowered to set the pace of the workload.  Whenever the inner critic would rear its ugly head the intern could dangle the threat of quitting.  Ha!  Score 1 point for the intern and 0 points for the inner critic.  


Somehow, knowing that I didn’t have to kowtow to the inner critic, provided the mental relief that I needed to move forward.  The inner critic and the intern represent different aspects of my artist persona.  Can I let go and be less rigid with myself?  Can I be less critical of others and myself?  Can I be more playful?  The inner critic versus the intern, which side are you on?