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Banishing Your Critic

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Author: Lynn Cutts

Whenever we start a new creative project, it's always a little scary. We're never sure how it's going to turn out. And that element of uncertainty is just the thing we need to get our Critic up and hollering at us.

The Critic also comes to visit when we start thinking about tomorrow's work, or yesterday's work, or the end result, instead of what we are doing here and now. Sometimes, it comes calling immediately after a visit with a well-meaning friend or relative, or when we are hungry or tired. My Critic likes to visit about 3:30 in the morning, frequently waking me from a sound sleep.

You know what I mean. Your Critic is that voice that echoes inside your head, telling you your work isn't good enough, you're not good enough, it's all a waste of time, it's trivial, no one will come, it will never sell. Everyone's Critic has it's own favorite issues. And our Critic's issues often get in the way of our work.

So we need to banish our Critic from our work space, whether that's a painting studio, a writing office, or a stage. But that's not easy to do. The Critic is stubborn, and usually returns after you think you've got rid of him for good. But here are some suggestions that might work for you.

  1. Have a concrete representation of your Critic in your work space. When you start to work, move it out of the space or put it in a drawer.

  2. Sit and listen to your Critic. Write down every negative thing it says, then either verbally or on paper refute each statement, whether you agree with it or not.

  3. When your Critic starts to sit on your shoulder and whisper in your ear in the middle of your working, stop for a minute. Take a deep breath, then concentrate on all your five physical senses. What do you smell? What do you hear? What do you see, feel, and taste? By really paying attention to your physical surroundings, you get yourself out of your head, and into the moment.

  4. Using a smudge stick, candle, or incense, devise a ceremony to purge your Critic from your work space. Perform your banishing ceremony whenever its voice gets a little too loud.

  5. Draw a picture of your Critic, with a balloon coming out of his mouth. Write its favorite negative phrase in that balloon. Then burn the picture, rip it into shreds, or crumple it into a ball and step on it.

  6. Talk to your Critic. Thank it for caring, but it needs to go away now. Politely but firmly ask it to leave. Keep asking until it goes.

  7. Take a break. Go outside, and reconnect with the creative energies that flow all around you.

  8. Go for a walk or a run. Go to the gym. Do something physical that will help you focus on now.

So the next time you hear that little voice whispering not-so-sweet nothings in your ear, get rid of it! Quickly. Then get back to work on what really matters.

About the author

Chocolate-loving Life Coach Lynn Cutts' mission is to change the world for the better, one person at a time. At, she shares free tips, essays, games and quizzes to discover your personal dreams. Lynn offers one-on-one coaching, group coaching and self-guided programs to help you create your own boundless life.

NOTE: You are welcome to use this article online in electronic newsletters and e-zines as long as it remains complete and unaltered (including the "about the author" info). If use of this article is desired in print, you must first contact Lynn Cutts at

Copyright 2005 Lynn Cutts

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