Self-Criticism: An Artist’s Best Friend

Self-criticism is an artist’s best friend while self-compassion is an artist’s true love. Self-criticism may be hard to overcome and may feel like an obstacle to creating art. However, during the artistic process, you need your critical lens to push you to fill in the holes in plot, to get the right angle on your sketch, and it can even motivate you to spend a little more time and care on your work. I think back to those times where my critical voice was active and I kept rewriting and rewriting to the point where the words looked foreign. These are the times when others say that passage really spoke to them or it was well-written or well-phrased. Self-criticism is meant to be your best friend and push you to achieve your artistic potential without settling. Self-criticism can become dangerous to an artist when you take the criticism as a reflection of your self-worth. Spending twenty minutes rephrasing a passage may make it more powerful, but if you think it means you need to become a better writer, you may feel as if you want to give up. Self-criticism is a reflection of your potential. You must trust that it is there to lift up the integrity of your craft, not tear down your self-belief. You need to be strong in the face of self-criticism and allow it to construct meaning and depth to your art.

While self-criticism is meant to become your best friend as an artist (which may take time), self-compassion is already your true love. Self-compassion forgives, it gives you grace, it makes you a better artist and person. You gracefully grow from a place of self-compassion. You are accepted as you are from this place. You know you matter here and you recognize that your work has value and purpose; you recognize that you have value and purpose. Your self-compassion will tell you to hold on to your idea when your self-criticism tells you that you aren’t quite ready to write, sing, sketch, record, perform, or post. Your self-compassion will hold your hand and lift you back up when doubt sets in. While you believe in your dreams, your dreams believe in your self-compassion. Self-compassion allows you to develop the trust you need for your craft to become a sanctuary, not a chore. Practice trust falling into your self-compassion. Your self-compassion will always remind you of your worth and importance in this world, as well as the gifts you were born to share with others.

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