I’m struck more every day with the miracle of life.
It doesn’t have to be this good. There are many things to work on to get to” perfect,” but the world is a pretty fantastic place for more than 7.5 billion of us to work together the way we do.
The journey of human conception starts with an average of 250 million sperm, yet only a few hundred arrive at the fertilization site. Each one of us made that journey, developed in our mother’s wombs and then grew here on Earth in a variety of environments and circumstances, none exactly alike.
Our bodies regenerate as we age, but we never feel it. We operate in the world completely taking the miracle of our lives as a given. The entire experience is a gift.
Even with this miraculous, undeniable, scientifically valid legacy, we struggle. We struggle not because of the outer world, but because of the inner world. The inner world is far more mysterious and challenging than the outer world.
On the inside, we struggle with myths that don’t support us, but we are compelled to believe. We struggle with traumatic memories we haven’t learned how to process. We struggle with the mischaracterization of failure as a measurement of our value. And on top of all this, we struggle with our inner critic.
The inner critic shows up in our lives, and its doubt and cynicism lead us to forget who we are.
We are not our names. We are not our titles. We are not any labels. We are not the judgments others make of us, or that we make of ourselves.
So who are we?
We are an embodiment of creative will.
Just look at the world with all its languages, cultures, foods, sciences, art, music, fashion, sports, religions, architecture, engineering, enterprises, laws, and more. What else binds us together more than creativity?
When we forget who we are, the inner critic gets louder, and we get unhappy.
How do we remember who we are? By being creative.
Cue the inner critic…
“I don’t have time.”
“I’m no good.”
“I’m not creative.”
“It’s too hard.”
You know it well. It speaks in the first person (as if it were you) and it never shuts up unless you prove it wrong. We could use a strategy for dealing with it.
Let’s practice responding to the inner critic with the truth.
” I don’t have time.”
Yes, I do have time. I’ve just filled it with things that feel urgent but aren’t important. This is a subtle way of saying that my creations aren’t worth my time, and that’s not true.
” I’m no good.”
No one is good when they start. So I should start and make a practice of it. I’ll get good if I stick with it.
” I’m afraid.”
Everyone is afraid. I am not alone. Fear is my friend. It’s there to make my work better.
” I’m not creative.”
That’s silly, of course, I am. Everyone is. Finance is creative. Operations is creative. Technology is creative. I can find something good and make it better in my own unique way.
” It’s too hard.”
Too hard for me? The embodiment of creative will? It may be hard, but it’s not too hard.
How do you do sustain your resolve and not get worn out?
You can’t vigorously debate the inner critic every day. You have to build momentum and allow the momentum to overwhelm it to see things your way.
How do you build momentum?
Prioritize your creative practice. If your practice is not formed into a habit, there’s little chance to achieve mastery. You need to feel the development of mastery for momentum to occur. The intensity and regularity of practice are what creates momentum.
How do you practice something until it becomes a habit?
Do something you love. It doesn’t have to make money, but it does have to be creative. And if at all possible, share it with the world. You’ll be surprised how much people will appreciate your creation. People love when people share their creations.
It’s not about how many people appreciate it. If you delight even one person with your creation, it’s worthwhile.
What about people being critical of your creation?
Well, they serve two purposes.
1) They show you where you can improve, which is helpful.
2) They project their unhappiness on you, which likely comes from their inner critic ruling their lives. This should make you grateful that you are taking steps to get yours in check.
You will know the difference between the two if you assume most people want to help.
How do you know what you love?
If you genuinely don’t know, you haven’t tried enough stuff yet. Try more things.
If you do know but are afraid to share your love with others, permit yourself to be honest with the world about who you are. People are in the proverbial closet with many things, not just sexual preferences. People are afraid that if they do something they love publicly that people will question or ridicule them.
The inner critic loves to kill our creativity with this one.
In the end, we overwhelm our inner critic by being brave.
Every time we do, we live out our truth, and our inner critic responds by saying,” I knew you could, I was just testing you.” Get creative and reconnect with the magic of being human.
Have a grateful day.