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Inner Voices

Updated: Jun 14

I was asked the other day whether as a young person I found a way to overcome the inner voice that said my art wasn't good. I was asked this by a young girl who had also obviously been hearing that same voice - the one that most of us recognise and hear on way too regular a basis, particularly those of us involved in creative enterprises.

Christmas Creek painting featuring a creek, rocks, and reeds.

My answer was that to be honest, I still hear that voice often. I have never really found a way to silence it for good. But I have developed ways of confronting that voice and telling it to pull its nasty negative head in long enough for me to start to feel better about myself and my art. One of the ways I do that is on the advice of author Julia Cameron. That is, to name that inner critic. Give it an actual name. And not only name it, but write about - why it is so critical, why it is not on your side and can't ever say anything supportive or positive. Doing that helps you to regain power from said critic. It helps you to understand where that critic comes from...perhaps they echo the voice of someone else in your life or tap into some kind of coping mechanism you developed as a young person. I have a friend (probably reading this) who even went as far drawing and then modelling her imagined visualisation of that critic. Does the same thing...takes away some of the power that critic has over us.

The critic can be powerful, in my experience. It can stop people from even having a go at trying to do something creative. It can prevent people from experimenting on the basis that it believes everything we do should be awesome. I have been working with some young people recently who listen to that voice way too often. It prevents them from having a go at things in case it isn't perfect. We need to do what we can in order to ensure that we bring our creative children into the world.

The other "inner voice" we often experience is our intuition. I was reading recently that rather than just being a "feeling", intuition is more of a deep cognitive understanding that we ignore at our peril.

I have learnt to try and tap into that intuition. Sometimes it doesn't lead anywhere useful, but at others, it enables a connection to the deep inner voice that helps us create the most emotionally resonant art work.

small artwork featuring a fairy gardent

We all have inner lives...inner voices that speak to us. We can nurture them or quash them. It is our choice. We don't have to believe our inner critic when it starts on about how inadequate we are. Neither do we have to listen to our intuition. But often, doing so enables us to create interesting, nuanced work that will resonate with a far wider audience than we imagine.

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