After a fun and full seven days of watching movies last week, I returned today to Julia Cameron’s workbook, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again. I was intrigued by an assignment in Week One, Reigniting a Sense of Wonder. In the section on the Inner Censor, Julia writes about that internal voice that tells us we aren’t doing well or that we could do better. For most of us, that voice has become so much a part of us that we listen to it without questioning the words. And yet, that formidable foe talks us out of trying new things, starting projects or fleshing out an idea. Because of our inner critics, we back down from our dreams. We hear the Censor as the voice of reason. In reality, it is a bully that seeks to create doubt.
We can’t entirely eliminate the Inner Critic but we can learn to minimize it and silence its voice. Julia’s task was to Shrink the Censor by naming it and describing it. Is it male or female, old or young? What does it look like? What does it say? She then suggested sketching out the Inner Critic, allowing it to take whatever form that emerged.
Julia says, “Drawing, naming and describing the nasty creature will automatically minimize its power in your life.”
This was a task I could have fun with!
I sketched me first, and some of the favorite sayings of my Inner Critic. I am very familiar with its voice. It attempts to keep me small, keep me in my place. Have you ever accidentally driven a car with the emergency brake on? I have. And that’s what my Inner Critic can make my life feel like…I’m moving forward but with the brake on, creating shaky starts and stops and difficulty in building up momentum.
Thinking about my internal censor, I struggled initially to come up with a name! “What if you offend someone by choosing their dad’s name or their favorite aunt’s name?” I heard. That’s what the critic does…slows me down, creates doubt, makes me overthink. If I listen for too long, I won’t do anything.
I chose the name KLOD for my IC. It sounds heavy, reminding me of a dirt clod, because my Inner Critic weighs me down, creating a dense energy within me. KLOD isn’t a real name, so no unintentional offense, and it has a bit of a Star Trek vibe to it! KLOD is not male or female, although the voice I hear sounds like mine, but more harsh, more accusing, more whispery.
And here is my sketch of KLOD. Perhaps I’ve been influenced by the Amphibian Man in the movie, The Shape of Water! I just started drawing and this creature emerged. It has small eyes and ears, because it doesn’t see who I am, who I am becoming, and it doesn’t listen well. The mouth is large, because it wants to whisper to me all the time.
The rather squishy body can drape around me, and hold tight with those sharp claws on its hands and feet, and the little suction cups on the tips of the fingers. I can easily imagine KLOD clinging to my back, its mouth near my ear, whispering away… “It’s too hard…Not enough talent…Stay safe…What will people think?”
As I completed my drawing, KLOD had an opinion about my art. “You drew me wrong. I don’t look like that.” And that thought made me laugh, and add the words to the drawing. Oh KLOD…you are doomed!
This was a fun, and enlightening, exercise. I like having an image for my Inner Critic, and I like knowing that I can shut that gaping mouth. It is important to recognize that those negative words are seeking to halt my dreams and create doubt in my abilities. It is crucial to know that I can silence the words by shrugging them off or by countering them with the truth.
KLOD: You can’t do that.
Me: Yes, I can. Watch me.
KLOD: What will people think?
Me: Someone will think, “That’s awesome. Maybe I can follow my dreams too!”
Most importantly, I can take action steps and keep moving toward my dreams. I can ask for Divine guidance. I can use the Morning Pages to free write and allow my ideas to flow and grow and flourish. I can seek out those who will encourage me and champion my adventures, and I can do the same for others. And, I can bolster my belief in myself by doing the things I love and following where my curiosity leads.
Julia writes, “The trick to outwitting skepticism is to keep gently pushing ahead.”
I am doing that, one step at a time, as my dreams shift into reality and ideas continually flow into my life. And KLOD? Well, KLOD can go take a hike. I’m not listening to it.