Gathering Your Angels, Killing Your Critic
Part Two of The Care and Feeding of Your Creative Spirit
As exquisitely sensitive people, we are susceptible to any negativity anywhere within a 100-mile radius, even on our best days. It’s hard for us as fragile beings to stay full and protected from the “bullies” in our lives who may not even realize they are bullies, or who hate their jobs, envy us and take great pride in knowing they’ve squashed somebody.
Staying full is a tough job for us creative people.
Like you, I often wake up stoked, my heart pounding, revved for a great day, exploding with ideas for songs and marketing those songs, and witty things to say at power lunches. But even after my brisk walk, an hour of yoga and finding York Peppermint Patties on sale, by noon, sometimes I’m back in bed curled up in a ball with an ice bag, phones unplugged, and I feel beaten up by the world. Again.
Staying full and impervious to the dark side of the planet often feels like trying to patch a dam, by hand, but the dam keeps leaking. You finally shore up one section, a hole springs up somewhere else.
I hate that it always comes down to me being there for me. Couldn’t I just hire a nanny who tells me I’m constantly wonderful? But knowing I’m responsible for my own creative health is empowering. It sure would be nice to have someone in my life who’s 100% for me, 100% of the time, but in the real world, that doesn’t happen. Having that “groupie” is also dangerous, because relying on another person translates as giving your power away. We should never give our power to anyone but ourselves, especially as artists.
So here’s what I’ve learned to do:
I summon my angels. Sometimes it’s a book of affirmations or prayers. Sometimes it’s an hour in my meditation garden, under the jacaranda tree. Often it’s just watching my morning glories, which have survived in spite of Mrs. Querfurth poisoning them and shrugging to the sheriff who’s munching the old bag’s Soprano banana bread, “golly golly, I don’t know how that got there…” In spite of being constantly Querfurthed, I learn from my hearty flowers that retreat in the dark and are closed tightly pink in the morning, then turn French blue as they follow the sun up the road, and open like miracles.
Another angel is the Impatiens I never planted, that shows up in deep purple and pale orange in my terra cotta pots anyway, riding the wind over here and wanting to live with us. Sometimes my angels are UPS packages from Bloomingdale’s I forgot I ordered in the middle of the night.
“Oh look – I got a present!”
Don’t think for a minute the universe doesn’t know what you need. If you’re open to receiving it, expect the spiritual/creative UPS guy every day. But you have to clear away the trash to give the big brown truck a place to park, right?
The trash is our critics.
They are usually mp3’s planted in our brains, and broadcast the “you’re stupid, ridiculous, banal, blew it, nobody likes you, see, you should have been a dentist” show 24/7. We have to learn to shout back at these voices, and shut them the heck up.
I taught one of my clients to put a nasty tomato with blue spots in a Ziploc bag and stomp the whatzit out of that fruit, imagining it was her critic, all the while screaming at the tomato to “shut up, let me write, you have no place here, you’re fired, fired fired fired fired, and if you dare return, I’ll squash you to death again and again and again until your molecules disintegrate completely!” (There is a $250 biology word for this – some kind of a synthesis, I think, the exact name of which seems to be stuck in the traffic of my memory at the moment).
Anyway, the Tomato Stomp worked for my client.
I suggested another Hollywood writer who’s been consulting with me throw eggs against a brick wall in the alley behind his apartment, screaming the same “get outta my life” dialogue. And it worked for him, too. The neighbors, not so much.
I taught another talented client a different method of shutting up his critic. Every time he made time to write, he locked his keys in a drawer, giving them the persona of his critic, and told them they were fired, forever, would be totally ignored, had no power over him, ever, and he hollered at them to go bother somebody else – someone who wanted to fail.
That worked, too.
This process of killing your critic will be equally effective for you, but only when you do some version of this “ceremony” every day, sometimes twice or three times a day, depending on how long your yutz has been in the business of sabotaging your dreams.