How To Silence Your Internal Critic
You know that voice in your head that seems to always have something to say, no matter what you do? In novice artists, internal critics can be loud and persuasive, while it seems like successful artists don’t have an internal critic at all. If you’re an artist and you’ve found that the nagging voice has become more of a deterrence than an enabler, we’ve got a few tricks that will help you draw and paint without interference.
Your internal critic is here to stay – let’s make that clear. The functionality of the internal critic is to strive for “what’s better”, constantly telling us there’s something more. Unfortunately for artists, the internal critic isn’t helpful – instead, it’s quite discouraging. So what do you do with the voice you can’t get rid of? The good thing is you can make it quieter.
It starts with acceptance
The first step in learning how to ignore your internal critic is by acknowledging it. You can’t get rid of it so accept it. It can be a hard pill to swallow, but for an artist, it’s crucial that you welcome the internal critic with open arms. Not that you need to listen to it – you welcome it because it’s there anyways. Fighting the internal critic only makes it that more powerful and convincing. If you accept it, the power of its words diminishes.
Besides, this internal critic is not you, so it’s okay to ignore it. The voice typically says “this doesn’t look like your reference”, “you’re making it worse. Stop while you’re ahead”, or “you’re not an artist, what are you doing”. Notice how it’s talking to you, as if it’s its own person. You may find yourself fighting with your own brain. It will say “you’re not good” and you can either say “I am good, thank you very much” or ignore it. The less you react, the more control you have.
Remember that this voice is extremely biased – you typically judge your work much more than you do others. I’m sure you’re familiar with the quote “we’re our own harshest critic”. Let that give you comfort, everyone else is dealing with the same thing, some have simply learnt to ignore it.
Work with others
Without outside positive reinforcements, your inner critic can run rampant, saying anything it wants, knowing you are more prone to believing it. Your internal critic loves when you work alone. This is one of the reasons why we have group based classes, and an instructor that has been specially trained in dealing with internal critics. You’ll see that you aren’t the only one dealing with that nagging voice – every single person, artist or not, has an internal critic.
Working around other artists will also help you get inspired and motivated to continue working.
Crank up the volume
If your inner voice has a megaphone, and it seems impossible to shut it up, it may be because it’s basking in silence. If that’s the case, turn on some jams and tune it out. This is an effective technique we use in MasterClasses. We’ve turned the music on so you can’t hear your inner critic. Turning on music is a fast and easy way to get rid of your inner critic.
Use these tips in combination, and you’ll find that your inner critic won’t have as much input on your art making as before. Free yourself from the negative opinions that voice presents! Make art because it makes you happy. Don’t let that inner critic tell you anything but positive comments. And always remember to have fun!