When you have made mistakes, or are in a desperate place, it’s easy to fall into the habit of criticizing yourself or beating yourself up.
There is often a voice that says something like, “I need to beat myself up to keep myself on track. If I don’t, I might become lazy or worse and then I’d REALLY be in trouble.” So you whip yourself more and are afraid to stop.
It doesn’t help. And here’s why: fear and constricted energy like this squeezes the connection between you and your Source of creative, juicy, aliveness energy down to a trickle.
Fear and forcing limits your creative thinking and spontaneous excitement, which is exactly what you need to get where you want to go.
It can be tempting to think that if you just punish yourself enough, you’ll get the thing done.
We see examples of this kind of thinking everywhere–there are plenty of movies of self-hating, drunk artists and insanely driven executives, where the implication is that all this pain and torment was somehow necessary to produce extraordinary results.
I think this is B.S. And I really wish they’d stop making movies like this.
I believe that everything truly beautiful and good comes through us, not from us. It is inspired. To be inspired, you have to keep your channel open. And keeping the channel open is entirely the domain of self-love and self-care, not self-abuse. It’s about relaxing and letting it happen–letting is an opening, allowing energy, not a closed-down, forcing energy.
When we can really own that we are beautiful and good, that’s when we start to create in ways that are beyond our own skin–we allow ourselves to become part of something larger. For co-creation to happen, we need to stand up and be proud of who we are, and also give ourselves a break and let ourselves be human.
If you are in the habit of driving yourself with fear, it will take practice to change your brain pathways.
The first step is to fully get on board intellectually that it is better for you and more productive to love yourself and trust that creative solutions will arise naturally.
If you have any doubt about this, mindfully start to just notice in yourself how you feel when you are nice to yourself and give the creative process time and space vs. mean and berating yourself about what you have done wrong or haven’t yet accomplished. Study yourself and see for yourself if this is really how you want to be with yourself.
One thing that helped me identify with this new concept of allowing was to think of nature. Flowers and trees grow on their own schedule; yelling at them does not help. Nourishing them helps them grow fuller and stronger…and, they still need time to reach their own potential, which they have within them the whole time.
When you are sure you want to create a new relationship with yourself, then it’s time to practice, practice, practice shifting your attention and thoughts and consciously relaxing and letting yourself be where you are.
You can practice by putting “and that’s OK” at the end of every internal sentence. For instance, “I can’t think of a clever thing to write here…and that’s OK”. See how that relaxes you and lets your creative channels open and a new solution presents itself. So it’s a combination of mindfulness, trying new things, and seeing what works.
Start playing with creating processes where you actively ask to receive guidance outside yourself rather than looking only to your own brain to come up with a solution every time.
Try journalling – ask a question, and then open your heart and mind and write an answer. Or let your mind wander…see what comes through. Or write down what you want an answer to on a card, hide it under your pillow, and see what solutions present themselves over the night or the next few days.
The key is to let go of the question, and let the solution come through….without pushing or forcing…and trust the timing of your internal rhythms and nature.
As you experience more and more that this allowing and receiving works, you will start to be able to really rely on it, and the need for the self-criticism will fall away. After all, that voice is just looking out for you…it’s not bad or wrong, it’s just missing some vital information: that you don’t have to figure it all out by yourself. The Universe is supportive, and when you open yourself to receive from it, the answers show up.