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Coping with Self-Criticism in Creative Work

I've become very accustomed to being hard on myself. It’s a blessing and a curse; self-criticism pushes us to work harder, do better---but it can also become toxic. How many times have you gotten inspired to create something, perhaps a poem, song, picture, or even a school assignment, only to find yourself giving up before giving it the real shot it deserves? As someone with a very active imagination, I've had a certain problem. In my head, I imagine the project I could create and I see it in a perfect, aggrandized way--- I see its full potential. It is not easy to make the best version of something, and since I am not an expert in all areas, it follows that it should be easy to disappoint myself by chasing perfection. What we can do instead, is identify two things: what we love doing, and what our current skill set in that area can create. When we approach something with fair expectations, we are much more inclined to complete the project before exhaustion or boredom sets in.

Dream big, don't stop that wonderful habit. But don't let the successes of others make you feel inferior. If you are doing the project for the right reasons (for example, personal satisfaction or the desire to create a piece of work you will feel proud of), you will learn as you go and expand beyond your old limitations.

What do you want from yourself, in this life?

Here is one of my favourite verses from the Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu:

     Fill your bowl to the brim
     and it will spill.
     Keep sharpening your knife
     and it will blunt.
     Chase after money and security
     and your heart will never unclench.
     Care about people's approval
     and you will be their prisoner.

     Do your work, then step back.
     The only path to serenity.

Images created in September 2015 by Hypat1a 

Submitted by Hypat1a, age 27.   

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