Perhaps the most fundamental condition of creativity is that the source or locus of evaluative judgement is internal.
Carl Rogers (1998)
When I was thirteen my art teacher told me I wasn’t good enough to do art at ‘O’ Level and I believed him. Perhaps what he actually meant was, “you enjoy making art too much. You don’t take it seriously.” I used to sing and make noises and talk during my mark making. I once drew a still life that had the words, “ahhh, shit!” in it (I drew what I saw). Perhaps he disliked my enthusiasm because he’d lost his own. I didn’t take art seriously. It was fun. Until he told me I wasn’t good enough. I stopped making art and began journalling instead.
I’m late writing this blog post because I had writer’s block. When I delved deeper into why I couldn’t begin writing I found a critical inner voice saying, “no point in writing because people will be like, ugh! Oh shut up!” I asked myself what it was protecting me from and I realised I didn’t want to feel disappointment that people might not read or comment on my blog post. Now I know this I can accept that fear: yes, maybe they will not read or comment, and I will have learnt a bit more by writing, and now I can write. My example highlights one of the purposes of self-criticism: to avoid potentially painful feelings. In this post I’ll share more about why we self-criticise, how self-criticism is linked to the fight/flight system, and how we can stop beating ourselves up and feel happier.