Monday, April 12, 2010
Continuing through "Journal Spilling," the next few exercises involve "Taming the Critic." It's an old cliche that we are often our worst critic. We analyze our work in excruciating detail and stamp it "Not Good Enough" compared with some vague and indeterminate vision that we alone possess of what it "should" be. While we'd never dream of judging someone else's work by that same ethereal standard, we discount our own without prejudice.
Since I am a great lover of words, I did a little study of "criticism" and related words. We generally think of the first meaning: judging harshly or finding fault. But it also has an evaluative meaning as in simply making an assessment. A critic evaluates and issues criticism, which can be negative or positive, as in "critical acclaim." Another interesting word from the same Greek root is "criterion" which is the standard by which something is judged. When a critic evaluates, he is measuring against criteria, broad or narrow, specific or general, for success.
It's really not possible to "silence the inner critic" as some suggest. We will always evaluate our own efforts, and we should! Without reflection on our work, we will never have the insights needed to learn and grow.
What we can change is the criteria against which our inner critic judges. If my standard for success is to create, learn and enjoy the process, then I only fail if I don't create, don't learn or don't enjoy.