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Inner child and inner critic: a battle for creativity

Becoming Young

Becoming Young

Being young is being curious. And most people become cynical and overly critical towards life as they grow older, and only a select few retain the wonder, innocence and joy of a child.

An adult's life consists of optimizing life using knowledge, mental models and practical shortcuts, a race towards better efficiency in everything. We stop asking the right questions, like the most common question a child asks: Why?

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Inner child and inner critic: a battle for creativity

Inner child and inner critic: a battle for creativity

https://nesslabs.com/inner-child-and-inner-critic

nesslabs.com

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Key Ideas

Becoming Young

Being young is being curious. And most people become cynical and overly critical towards life as they grow older, and only a select few retain the wonder, innocence and joy of a child.

An adult's life consists of optimizing life using knowledge, mental models and practical shortcuts, a race towards better efficiency in everything. We stop asking the right questions, like the most common question a child asks: Why?

Our Inner Critic

Our inner critic is usually formed in a system based on right and wrong answers and outperforming others on structured tasks. Listening to our inner critic will rarely improve our creative work - it may actually result in conformative work.

We need to turn this inner-critic into an inner-coach and drive our personal growth.

Re-educating Our Inner Critic

We do not need to suppress or kill our inner critic, but only need to re-educate it, but only need to deploy three simple ways to make space for the inner child:

  1. Get more playful in our creative endeavours.
  2. Skip doing something adults do in favour of doing something that kids love to do, like drawing, writing poems and playing in the pool.
  3. Practice constructive questioning by asking why to the things we (and others) take for granted.

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Replace Self-Criticism

Our brains automatically look for evidence that matches up with what we believe about ourselves, but often disregards other evidence to the contrary.

To break this automatic tendency, ...

Talk Back

Talking back to your inner critic is an important part of taking away its power. 

Telling the critic you don’t want to hear what it has to say begins to give you a sense of choice in the matter. 

Separate The Critic From You

Self-criticism isn’t innate to us, it’s internalized based on outside influences, such as other people’s criticism, expectations, or standards. It’s a habit that can be unlearned or controlled.

One way to separate yourself from the self-criticism is to give it a name. Doing so, you better positioned to free yourself from its influence.

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Replace The Bad With Some Good

Take a negative thought and change it to something encouraging that's also accurate. Repeat until you find yourself needing to do it less and less often. 

Notice And Stop That Thought

Simply stopping negative thoughts in their tracks can be helpful. This is known as "thought-stopping" and can take the form of snapping a rubber band on your wrist, visualizing a stop sign, or simply changing to another thought when a negative train of thought enters your mind.

Say It Out Loud

Telling a trusted friend what you're thinking about can often lead to support or a good laugh when the negative self-talk is ridiculous. Even saying some negative self-talk phrases under your breath can remind you how unreasonable and unrealistic they sound, and remind you to give yourself a break.

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How Social Environments Influence Creativity

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How The Meaning of "Being Creative" Changed

In the 70s, creativity was thought of as a trait, something a few geniuses have, and the rest of us do not.

New studies show that ‘extrinsic’ motivators, factors outside ourselves, can influence our creativity. Competition, evaluation, level of strictness along with rewards and punishment play a huge factor in a person’s overall creative levels.

How To Kill Creativity

Knowledge that someone will check, evaluate and grade one’s work, surveillance, a promise of a reward, threat of a punishment, creative constraints, competition and motivating factors like power, money and fame can kill creativity.

Rewards generally provide the individual with a feeling of being controlled, but can also enhance creativity in some cases.

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It often arise from something beyond our control, whether a breakup or loss of someone dear. We can even feel anxiety when trying something new.

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Anxiety tends to build over time. Through awareness, we can help minimize its effects.

Our anxiety is trying to help us. Our body is trying to tell us it has new needs. Start noticing what makes you anxious and what takes you out, as well as when it happens.

Meditate to calm your nervous system

Meditation as a practice is useful to tune into awareness and to calm your nervous system.

To start, take a minute or two to pay attention to where your mind wanders. When you're able to begin noticing problematic situations through the practice of awareness, you can stop doing them.

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According to Sigmund Freud, mental disorders and destructive behavior patterns are more or less related to our inner child, which most of us fail to see directly.

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Negating Our Inner Child

Whenever our inner child surfaces, we are told by society to grow up, throwing aside or killing childish things like innocence, wonder, awe, joy, sensitivity, and playfulness.

Most grown-ups don't realize that they are not grown-ups at all, but emotionally wounded children inhabiting adult bodies. And a wounded inner child is the root cause of bad relationships, bad career, and of the persistent negative emotions of fear, anxiety, insecurity, and inferiority.

Nourish Your Inner Child
Adults should relate to their inner child just like a parent, providing love, support, discipline, boundaries, structure, nurturance, and acceptance.
This constant communication and care of the inner child commences towards a mutually beneficial, cooperative, symbiotic relationship.
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Playfulness

Playfulness is the lesser-known and under-appreciated antidote to unhappiness, boredom, and stuckness of life.

Trumping Anxiety

Playfulness outcompetes worry and anxiety.

Most people find it hard to worry less, so the way out is to find something playful to do, a distraction or a hobby, or get into mindfulness meditation.

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Fighting your inner battles

Like most other things in our life, getting healthy is more about fighting our inner battles - desiring the bad food, wanting to drink and smoke, or forgoing the planned workout.

Identify the demon first

It is difficult to fight an inner battle if you do not know what you are fighting.

Get to the root of the problem by putting a face on that demon. Identify the real problem that is holding you back.

Stay Away Until You’re Ready

Don't try to fight your inner battle until you have leveled up. The inner battle you're facing never goes away completely. It just becomes easier when you are prepared.

  • Remove all the junk food out of your house until you’re better equipped to handle it.
  • Drive a different path to work so that you can avoid Burger King and McDonald’s.
  • Take a month off from going out to bars.

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Albert Einstein

"It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education. "

Albert Einstein
Curiosity declines with age

Children are extremely curious. They keep asking, "why?" and explore new things just because they want to know.

But research shows that during the schooling years, curiosity steadily declines, and as adults, we fall into fixed and convenient thought patterns.

The mechanics of curiosity

Research around curiosity found that children at age 5 scored 98% on a creativity test. When the same children took the test at age 10, only 30% scored well on the test. By age 15, only 12% of the same children did well. Less than 2% of adults are defined as creative based on their answer to this standardised test.

Science suggests this decrease in curiosity could be caused when we feel there's no gap between what we know and what we want to know, so we just stop being curious.

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Your inner critic
Your inner critic

We almost all have a character inside our minds that tends to visit us late at night when we're very tired, telling us terrible things in order to destroy our self-confidence and self-c...

Every story has two sides

You could tell everything as a tragedy, or you could tell an equally valid and far kinder story. You could say that you made some serious errors, as every human will, and you paid the price for them. Nevertheless, you tried to be good and loved a few people properly. Despite everything, your heart is in the right place.

The difference between hope and despair depends on the way of telling conflicting stories from the same facts.

Your inner critic was always an outer critic

... who has been internalized. You're speaking to yourself as someone else once talked to you or made you feel.

You should acknowledge your failures and be happy to make amends. But you also have to stand back from this critic and question what they are doing in your mind. They don't have a right to walk as they wish through the rooms of your mind.

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4 Stages of Creative Control
  • Preparation: you’re learning everything you can about the problem.
  • Incubation: you’re allowing your unconscious mind to work on the problem.
  • Illumination: ...
Creative work categories
  • Prioritize: The clearer your priorities, the more focused you can be on the task at hand. 
  • Generate: Build a creative habit. Make a daily deliverable, whether it’s 100-words a day, a 30-second song etc...
  • Explore: When you Explore, you collect the raw materials for the insights you’ll have when you Generate.
  • Research: To solve a creative problem, you have to learn whatever you can about that problem.
  • Recharge: When you rest, you allow your unconscious mind to work on your creative problems.
  • Polish: A great idea won’t work if you don’t execute it well.
  • Administrate: make it all work, so you can keep doing what you’re doing.
Becoming a perpetual creativity machine
  1. Build a tiny creative habit: Find the time of day with the best creative energy and make your daily deliverable so small, you can’t stand to fail.
  2. Take time to Prioritize: Once you’ve established a habit, dedicate an hour a week to a “weekly review”.
  3. Rest with a purpose: Establish times during your day and your week when you’ll do something that Recharges you.