Do you talk to yourself?

I wonder It's the voices in our heads that cause more problems than any external sources of negativity. Twyla Tharp's "inner critics." Melissa Dinwiddie's gremlins.

Can you hear them? They are the echoes of old teachers, our parents, a harsh classmate, a coach, an insensitive professor, the boss that never understood you. These voices swirl around with your own sense of perfectionism or pride or fear and suddenly you're caught in an inner maelstrom of negativity and you have no idea how to proceed.

This inner maelstrom can stop me in my creative tracks.

And because I'm so quick to agree, to add my own fear-based perfectionism to their ongoing ticker-tape of negativity, I'm slowly and patiently working to be more kind and patient to myself.

It's hard, this self-compassion thing. I feel like I'm rushing to play catch up as an artist -- having given up on being an artist when I headed into college, and then falling back into it a few years ago. I feel so very behind, like I'm making up for lost time. But instead of being patient and understanding with myself, I push myself to work harder faster and more efficiently in order to catch up with this standard.

Who's standard, Mandy?

EXACTLY.

I'm going through a class with Melissa Dinwiddie right now and it is changing the way I nurture my own inner artist. It's SO hard, but I'm being challenged to slow down a bit and be more kind/understanding with myself.

...patience.

I'm also reading Kristin Neff's Self Compassion book, in an effort to better understand why I work myself harder than any boss I've ever had. (While we're at it, can I just confess that I'm astounded at how hard I work myself. I'm not a fan. It's an impossible standard and it exhausts me and it's not healthy. There. I said it.)

...compassion.

So here I am wondering if the old adage still applies: "Kill them with kindness." Can we silence our inner-critics in such a fashion? Will this degree of inner-compassion actually soothe the fears that bring us to a place of self-beratement and impossible standards? Aren't we just wrestling with the scared insecure parts of us that are self-protective and perfectionistic anyway?

...fear.

I wonder what would happen if I stopped expecting and started accepting... If I kindly joined myself where I am: Just a few years into life as an artist and mommy. Just a few years into this sort of rebirthing. I'm still toddling. Can I give myself permission to toddle? Can I give myself permission to not-yet-know? Can I be kind and compassionate?

I shake my head as I type out these questions. I don't know if it's possible to be this cooperative with myself, but I deeply desire it. I need to change the way I talk to myself, rewrite some inner dialogs, and work to be more of a fan than a manager.

Do you talk to yourself? Are you able to silence or soothe the inner critics, quiet your gremlins, and get to work cooperating with your own soul? How do you foster inner peace against perfectionism and impatience?

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