When sorting through advice and opinions, not all of the voices influencing us are spoken by others. We also have inner voices that comment on our work. They may be insecurities that originate in past negative experiences and these can sap our creative energy. Others are rules and formulas that we've accepted without question but don't serve us well. But not all inner voices are negative. it's also possible to cultivate positive inner commentary and learn to control what we tell ourselves. How can we prevent our inner critic from shouting down our true voice? How can we nurture positive insights, and recognize what is right for our own direction?
Our inner voices often seem to have a life of their own--positive and excited one moment, bewildered the next, fluctuating between harshly critical and and back to ecstatic. To some extent, this roller-coaster of emotion is part of the normal cycle of creativity. Making art is a hard challenge and elicits many kinds of feelings. But constant negative self-judgement is confusing and saps our creative energy. And refusing to accept anything but positive thoughts can also be detrimental, blinding us to real issues with our work. Like so much in art, it's important to find a balance. This can be done by observing your inner commentary in as objective a light as possible.
One way is to consider the sources of unhelpful inner voices. Some of them may originate long ago in remarks by a parent or teacher and have nothing to do with who you are now. Other inner voices are based in commonly held beliefs about what it takes to be a real artist and are unrealistic or narrow in scope. We may also have perfectionistic ideas about how fast we should be progressing or how little we should be struggling. All sorts of ideas can lodge in our brains that feed negative inner commentary. Recognizing them, writing them down, and discussing them with other artists can help loosen their hold. At the same time, try to actively build positive inner voices by reflecting on your accomplishments and recognizing your strengths. Our inner voices can be our best guides, providing strength, confidence, and true direction.