There's so much chatter out there. Leaders trumpeting. Opinions clashing. Groups shouting. Social media adds more layers to the noise tracks I hear and even though I'm glad I live in a part of the world where all the voices are heard, it's still overwhelming. At times, I just have to shut it all off.
But when I do, a strange thing happens, another voice comes on. That voice, that inner tape track has many names which are actually listed on Wikipedia. Some of the names are: inner critic, the perfectionist, the taskmaster, the guilt tripper, the judge, the destroyer and my personal favorite, the gremlin.
The voice of self doubt.
This voice creates not just bumps but real road blocks to my creativity. It chastises me for not working hard enough and when I'm in deadline mode, to be careful not to make mistakes. If I don't have a show for my work, I'm lazy. And if I'm in a show and I don't sell enough, I'm a failure. It's a no-win situation, obviously.
And yes, I know this voice is not unique to me. We all have some version of Sister Mary of the Many Mistakes in our heads. Granted, for me, Catholic school sure didn't help but I can't keep blaming it all on the nuns. There are many schools of thought on where these voices come from: Freudian superego, Jungian animus or the primitive, reptilian brain.
The sound of silence. Please.
Even though I understand what, why and how my inner gremlin operates. It still gets in my way. I've struggled to shut it up in many ways. I've argued and meditated, journaled and jazzercised, binged on caffeine and Netflix. But all that I found out was that fighting with the gremlin is really fighting with myself and that gets exhausting, not to mention silly and ineffective.
So I asked myself and my inner gremlin, what can I do? I can give it a seat in my studio where it's comfy. When it decides to talk, I can decide to nod but not really listen. I can put on some music that we both like. Music seems to quiet the gremlin. And sometimes, it's a great distraction for both of us, because I've found my inner gremlin really likes to sing off key.
I'm not crazy(OK, maybe a little, after all I am an artist) or the only one on the planet with a non-stop inner critic. Having doubts is part of life, so as long as I'm living, I'll try to accept it. When I hear the voice of my inner gremlin chatting at me and around me, I'll give up the fight and give it a new place to sit in my life.