Creativity Cafe’ | Don’t Beat Yourself Up—Create with Curiosity!

Posted in Blogs, Literary

June 13, 2014

As my husband sings his way through Japan, I’m here shuttling kids around and off the island to schools, appointments, lessons, practices, performances… Their father returns on Father’s Day, and I told him to be prepared to be a father.

So my writing languishes. My online Continuing Education Course students get shorter feedback comments. My creativity-coaching clients don’t get as many nudges from me.

Being self-employed, I have a difficult boss. She doesn’t pay well, the work is never good enough and she sets unreasonable demands on me—especially when it comes to deadlines. And so, once again, she needs some coaching herself. So, Deb, I’ve been wondering…

Are the kids fed and dressed? Is everyone healthy? Are they getting where they need to be at least most of the time?

Your writing is still there. Remember how you always say writing needs incubation time? This is it!

None of your online students asked for feedback. It’s not even a requirement. They tell you how much they appreciate your comments. Isn’t that enough?

Your creativity-coaching clients know it’s their responsibility to check in with you. When you nudge them, it’s a gift. Reread what they’ve said about how you’ve helped them and take it in this time. Oh, and you extended the six-month folks an extra two months. Doesn’t that mean anything?

Deb—Boss  (photo by the author)

Deb—Boss (photo by the author)

Do you beat yourself up too?

What would your ideal best friend tell you in response to what you’ve been telling yourself? If you’re lucky enough to have an ideal friend—ask! And if you’ve been listening to the wrong people—don’t. You can’t see your reflection in a dirty mirror. If you’ve got toxic friends who are almost as bad as your boss, dump them.

Why do we allow all this judgment anyway? Could we learn to evaluate without labeling and comparing? It seems we’re either falsely building ourselves up by shouting out our accomplishments or beating ourselves down before anyone else can. Judgment kills creativity.

Deb—Coach  (photo by the author)

Deb—Coach (photo by the author)

There are no mistakes—no right or wrong!—in creativity. You must take risks, you must be willing to fall down and get up again, and you must give up judgment. Or better yet, as Christina Baldwin says, “Replace judgment with curiosity.” (If you’ve followed me at all, you’ve heard this quote before.)

Instead of labeling your actions and outcomes as bad or good, try asking questions and ponder the answers. I wonder why… How… What if…

What would my creative projects and life be like without judgment?

I wonder why I compare and label my work as good or bad?

Where in my life can I replace judgment with curiosity?

And please—Don’t beat yourself up for beating yourself up!

Oh, and when you tell your boss there’s no more beating yourself up, use curiosity instead of judgment. That allows bosses to think the whole thing was their idea. Bosses like that. Curious, isn’t it?

Deb Lund is a creativity coach who helps others stop beating themselves up. She admits to beating herself up quite regularly in the past (and once in a while these days) and also admits to taking her Creativity Coaching Training, in part, to replace her inner critic with an inner creativity coach. 

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