I don’t know about you, but when I first started out in making art quilts as my way of expressing my creativity, I had a chorus of naysayers going off in my head. “That’s not good enough!”, “You’re never going to get in a show!”, “Who do you think you are trying to compete with X?” were some of the more popular tapes that played on and on in my head. I describe this onslaught of negativity as the “itty, bitty, shitty committee”. Don’t you just love that name? Go ahead; borrow it; I did.
However, what I came to realize through my spiritual work, is that these voices are of my own creation. These inner critics may have kept me safe when I was little, but playing small doesn’t feel very comfortable to me as an adult. I don’t need validation from a peer group any more like I did in high school. During that time in my life, it was hard enough just to survive the pressures placed on me. Now, I am comfortable in my own skin, so for the most part, those critics have been silenced.
Now, how did she do that, you might be asking? For me, it was through healing a specific pre-natal event in the spiritual work that I do that the voices were turned off. I had no idea the cacophony of self-doubt that was going off in my head until those voices were silent. However, if you don’t have a similar method in your own process, some self-examination can go a long ways towards giving you courage to put you and your art work out there in the public.
What are your own special strengths with regard to your own art form? Listen to what people repeatedly say about your work? For me, it was “Look at all of those little tiny beads!” and “How long does it take you to finish your work?” are some of the frequent comments that I hear. At first, I was a little insulted, as I wanted to be known as an ARTIST, and not the technician that I felt that those remarks implied. However, if you keep hearing the same responses over and over, then there must be a message there for you with regard as to how you’re being perceived. Then, capitalize on those aspects! I frequently interject that 1 square inch of heavy beading with size 10 beads is one hour’s work. People are impressed that in this day of planned obsolescence, someone would take that much time in the creation of a work of art. After reviewing my list, which at first took a while to generate, I could start the self-dialogue and say… “OK”, I thought, “I’m not a total loser!”
Now, look at what you feel are your weaknesses. which for me were the strongest voices. For me, one would be that it takes so long to finish a piece, (4-6 months for some of the larger ones), and thus I have to charge quite a lot to make the work economically viable. Now try and re-frame that perceived weakness as the positive, flip side of the two sided coin of your perceptions. Taking too long became look how long it takes to complete one of my art quilts, and how rare it is today to find someone who still does handwork with that much detail. This method of re-framing has worked well for me in how I present myself to others, and how I feel about myself and my work. It also keep the little inner chorus muffled when they try to resurface.
I would invite yourself to explore why those voices are still going off in your head. What are you trying to protect yourself from? In the spiritual healing work that I do with my clients, I find that no matter what the presenting symptom might be, there’s usually an underlying fear buried, perhaps many, many layers down. Here is when a peer review, a support group, or a trusted mentor can go a long way in helping to unearth those blind spots around ourselves that we all have. What may be totally out of your own awareness may be blatantly obvious to someone else. Blind spots aren’t called “vaguely fuzzy spots”. When it’s one of your core issues, I find that I’m incredibly good at keeping that aspect of myself “blind” to me.
So here’s to silencing that chorus in your head that’s keeping you from moving forward in your personal endeavors. I experienced such relief when my mind went silent. What had been there before was the constant drone of conversations that occasionally I would be aware of. I invite you to find your own path to do the same and live your artistic life the way you were intended to be, free and with a heart wide open.
What methods have worked for you to silence your inner critic?How do you feel that you’re being held back by your inner naysayers and what insights do you now have with regard to their nagging voices?
Why not leave a comment as to your thoughts on this posting. Please take a minute, fill out the form by clicking on the “comments/no comments link” at the top of the posting, and then share your ideas with the rest of us. We all grow when we share our thoughts and impressions, so why not join our growing community of those who appreciate art quilts and textile arts. We’d love to hear from you!
You can see more of my art work on my web site at www.fiberfantasies.com