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Denise Jacobs: Banish Your Inner Critic

Staying true to ourselves, no matter what, is key. How people perceive you actually has little to do with you: judgment says more about the one judging than the one being judged. Often criticism and judgment are nothing more than someone projecting their insecurities, fear, and negativity onto you. Although judgments and criticisms may feel as limiting and suffocating as the squeeze of a boa constrictor, know that you have the power to extricate yourself from the hold of uninformed comments. We can show the people who don’t see our vision or us clearly some compassion. I have a Welsh friend who uses an expression that amuses me to no end: “Well, bless their little cotton socks!” he often says (which is often shortened to “bless their cottons!”). When we encounter external judgment, we can remember that someone else’s opinion is not our problem, and take the higher road by wishing that person well, and then wishing them on their way. In the grand scheme of things, how others see you isn’t important. How you see yourself, however, is everything. Regardless of whatever criticism or judgment comes your way, having a base of a strong sense of self will help you weather the storm of anything that people may say about your work. In an online article, relationship expert Dr. Margaret Paul puts it beautifully: “High self-worth or low self-worth is the result of how we treat ourselves – not about what others think of us.”

Build your sense of self by prioritizing yourself. Don’t let others define you – live by your own values. Get to know your own strengths and limitations, viewing them without judgment, but simply as facts about who you are. And finally, continue to learn to operate from your center by trusting yourself more, cultivating a deep belief in what you are doing. We can work on tuning into that small clear voice inside – our Creative Self – that tells us what is our own truth. And we can begin to act accordingly by standing up for ourselves, championing our ideas, and getting out of a place of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. We can start to learn to communicate our ideas and projects better to garner the support that we want and need. In essence, we start taking back our creative power and living a life that is authentic to the Self.

Creative Dose: More Clear, More Empowered

Purpose: To put external criticisms into perspective

Here are some suggestions to stay grounded in the face of unhelpful criticism.

Option 1: A Drop In the Ocean

Whenever you receive criticism, whether it’s well-intentioned, constructive, malicious, or just plain irrelevant, put it into perspective. Banish Your Inner Critic 136 Imagine the criticism as a drop of dense black ink and see it falling into the ocean. Watch as the drop mixes with the surrounding water and gets lighter and lighter until it is indistinguishable. You’ll find that this helps wash the criticism away from your mind so you can focus your brain on continuing to generate big ideas.

Option 2: Preferred Treatment

If someone criticizes you harshly, you can stand up for yourself and teach them how you’d prefer to be treated. To a harsh or poorly thought through and delivered criticism, you can respond with something like, “Your points are completely valid and I appreciate you sharing them with me. However, I would take them far better if you changed your tone of voice.” Take back your power. Establish how people will treat you, not the other way around.

Choose to Contribute

“Criticism is something you can easily avoid by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” — Aristotle

I have a confession: I have had quite a few moments when I have been afraid of being judged for this book. However, one morning earlier this week while washing dishes, I had a realization: in the grand scheme of things, it simply doesn’t matter whether folks judge it or not. Of course I would love for this book to be a profound experience for everyone who reads it. I would love for people to love it. However, while the objective of writing this book is to help people, it is also about developing my own personal creative process.

In the inception stage, creativity is really about the relationship that you have with yourself and what you are bringing forth. It’s about letting out what’s inside of you. And in the moment of creation, what you are making doesn’t have anything to do with other people. It’s about you and your work. In those moments that you spend bringing your creation into the world, no one else matters.

You already know this, but it bears stating nonetheless: no matter what it is you do or create, there will always be someone out in the world for whom it is not a good fit. You simply can’t please everyone – and you shouldn’t strive to. When you find the people with whom your work strongly resonates, you will have discovered the treasure trove of your “tribe.”

As creatives (if you have not yet accepted that you are creative by default, don’t protest any longer – just accept it), we often feel that a rejection of our ideas, skills, or what we produce with our talent, is a rejection of us as people. But it’s not. The criticism is not about who you are as a person, but something that came through you. We identify strongly with what we produce – it feels like an extension of ourselves. But when we take a more mindful approach, we can realize that what we produce is not us at all, but rather an object or concept, which much as children do, takes on an identity and life of its own after it leaves us. It touches the lives of people. You could even think of your creation as having its own individual relationship with these people, which you aren’t really a party to anymore.

Ultimately, you create for both yourself and for others, but they are two different parts of the whole process. We create to contribute to our own growth and self-actualization and ostensibly for others’ as well. At some point with your creative work, you have to make a choice: is it more important for you to protect the Self from judgment and keep what you have inside, or to contribute and enrich your own life as well as others’? In my mind, the answer is always that it is more important to make a positive contribution to yourself and to the world.

Decide that it is more important to contribute something to the world than it is to protect yourself, and let those big, beautiful ideas inside of you come out.

Creative Dose: Focus on the Work

Purpose: To manage anxiety about potential criticism of your work

If you are feeling anxious about what people might say about your work or your creations, what will help is to focus on the work itself, and not your feelings of anxiety about it.

Step 1: Feel Fascination

Focus on truly interfacing with what you are making: become deeply interested in it and seek to discover all that you can about it. It’s a lot of like being in love, when learning more about your beloved is a fascinating journey, and you’re always eager to find out more.

Commit yourself to discovering these things:

• What is the soul of this idea or project?

• What does this project aspire to be?

• What makes this idea or project tick?

What other aspects can you discover about your idea or project?

Step 2: Feel Honored

Another perspective you can take is that idea that an idea or project chooses you, and not the other way around. Look at the initial spark of insight and then the compulsion to see an idea through to completion as existing because that idea chose you, out of all of the people on this planet, to come through into the world and become tangible. When I use this perspective to think about what I’m creating or working on, I not only feel incredibly flattered, but I feel a sense of honor at being the one chosen to help to make “my” idea manifest.

Ask yourself:

• What is the best way for you to respect and honor the spirit of the idea that has chosen you to be its vehicle for coming into the world?

• What does the idea want you to do to truly communicate all of what it is?”

Are you ready to boost your personal productivity—minus the fear and loathing? Are you ready to Banish Your Inner Critic and unleash your creative ideas and personal productivity within? Help is on the way!

Blocking your great creative ideas: Everybody has an inner critic telling you that others have more talent, you’re just faking it, and that you’ll never have those great creative ideas that seem just out of reach. This inner critic is a subconscious deterrent that stands between the seeds of great creative ideas and the fruits of achievement. It afflicts us with a mental block as deadlines approach; makes us so afraid of being judged that we hold ourselves back and don’t share our expertise; forces us to question our ability to learn ideas and technologies quickly; and makes us doubt, discount, and kill our ideas before they see the light of day.

Open up a world of creative ideas: Denise Jacobs is a speaker, author and creativity evangelist who speaks at web conferences and consults with tech companies worldwide. As the Founder and Chief Creativity Evangelist of "The Creative Dose", she teaches techniques to make the creative process more fluid, methods for making work environments more conducive to personal productivity, and practices for sparking innovation. In her book, Banish Your Inner Critic, Denise Jacobs shows you how to defeat those barriers that are holding you back, and achieve success through a positive mental attitude.

Banish Your Inner Critic shows you how to:

  • Identify and quiet your voice of self doubt

  • Master 3 powerful transformative practices

  • Overcome the fear of not knowing enough or being original enough

  • Transform your self talk into a tool for success

  • Generate more creative ideas than ever before

  • Embrace your expertise and share your brilliance with the world

Banish your Inner Critic to start doing your best work, achieving excellence, and contributing meaningfully to the world!


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