The Reason That Self-Criticism Kills Creativity and Expansion

Being self-critical is good; being self-hating is destructive. There’s a very fine line there somewhere, and I walk it carefully.
— Daniel Radcliffe

As a designer, entrepreneur or “hustler” of something, most of us have experienced that sinking feeling of overwhelm when our mind goes to a bad, bad place and we begin to criticize our work. As a general rule, we are always our worst critic.

After having spent a relaxing week vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, deadlines were seemingly coming out of everywhere. It was 12:30am and I was staring at piles of paper stuck with colorful post-its, which were meant to organize but instead had the very opposite effect. Books, articles and every “i-device” that I own were open with screens glaring with more information.  And then I had a moment of complete FAIL. I could swear that those colorful little post-its were floating off the pages saying nasty things to me. You know that voice that creeps in and says things like... 

…Why don’t I know how to do this? I’m not good at this particular thing and it isn’t my skill-set. I suck at this and I’ve never been good at it. I don’t even WANT to be good at it. I CANNOT DO THIS. I’m used to doing things this way so I shouldn't have to do things any other way. Who, in their right mind, suggested that I was capable of doing this?”

I went from this sunny, happy  cocktail-laden workspace on Martha's Vineyard....


I went from this sunny, happy  cocktail-laden workspace on Martha's Vineyard....

to THIS one, in a matter of hours. I was very disoriented.


to THIS one, in a matter of hours. I was very disoriented.

Yes? Well, I heard those same unwelcome messages and after taking a brief break, I found myself reading an Astrology website (because my mind works in random ways sometimes.) I’ll spare you the rest of the “new moon” details but this last line:

…You have to get out of your comfort zone and try new things. Sometimes new things work and sometimes they don’t. The Virgo part of you wants to be right. Self criticism kills creativity and expansion.” (source: Mystic Mama)  

BAM! Then it occurred to me. Ego aside, we need to spend a lot more time reminding ourselves of our own greatness rather than criticizing everything that we "aren't."  We are asked to do particular projects because we're qualified to do them. We're asked to take on roles because of our experiences and abilities, not in spite of them. We don't need to be perfect or do things the way that they've been done before in order to impact change. We create points of comparison that have no reason to exist. Instead, we need to bring our best selves to the table, quirks and all because that is precisely why others will seek us out. 

Of course we have to be willing to honestly look at ourselves and our work in order to improve but there is a very fine line between “I can’t“ and “I’ll try”, between “I’m not good enough” and “I might make a few mistakes but I’ll give this a whirl.”

The difference is vast because it means: we either show up, take risks and do the work or we stifle ourselves and stay firmly rooted in the exact same place forever. 

Self-criticism and negative self-talk eat away at the very core of creating, making or doing work that matters.
 

Every time you hear that voice telling you how impossible something is, consider this: the alternative is being stuck exactly where you are, forever.  So make the move, take the action, do the work.

GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK, TAKE A DEEP BREATH and GET OUT THERE AND CREATE WORK THAT MATTERS. YOU’VE GOT THIS.  
 

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