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Tue, Oct. 15

Flores: Self-care and the critical inner voice

Britt Flores. (Courtesy)

Britt Flores. (Courtesy)

Once, my father hired me as a manager for his dojo. I expected to find operating systems, a well-structured calendar system, etc. What I beheld instead was a pencil-and-paper calendar, instructors who made their own schedules and no central email system or staff meetings.

Coming from a corporate culture, this lack of organization drove my OCD insane. Weeks passed and I didn’t realize I had been judging my dad’s way of doing business and criticizing him daily until one morning he said very nicely, after I had spewed my vocal frustration all over the place, “Brit,” he said calmly and smiling, “ I don’t wake up in the morning and yell at myself. Why would I hire someone to yell at me?”

I stopped. It was a powerful revelation. Who was I to criticize my dad’s workflow? It worked! My parents were successful, the instructors were happy. Not realizing it, I was getting in his way and MY way because I was obsessed with my own judgments. Work had ceased to be fun and I was putting myself in an irritated state of being, every day.

So, the question I have for you is: Are you hiring yourself to yell at yourself as well?

Do you get excited about trying something new only to be met with a voice in your head that whispers critical thoughts?

If that’s the case, you are literally getting in your own way and stopping yourself from engaging in an amazing form of self-care, which is creative expression. It’s one thing if someone in your life is constantly telling you that your ideas are “no good.” You can argue with that person, create physical distance, even cut them out of your life … but yourself? When you’re the one putting roadblocks on your own dreams, you’ve got to take yourself in hand, look in the mirror and gently say, “Stop.” I’m not saying we ignore the fear, but I am saying we need to speak to ourselves with kindness and get to the root of it.

Usually the critical voice we hear in our head is associated with childhood attempts at doing something creative, something we thought was cool. For some of us, we were shut down by either peer pressure or sadly, parental or academic criticism. In my case, it was an art teacher.

I studied figure drawing at the Art Center of Design. One day, my teacher came by my station, charcoal in hand, jumped into my drawing, executed HIS ego and began increasing my shading and gradients. When he was finished, he looked at me with a snarl and said, “You’ll never be a fine artist; you lack the discipline.”

As he walked away, I packed my equipment and left. I never went back. A few years later I did go to college for digital art and design and ended up becoming a professional, multi-talented artist; however, I never picked up my charcoals again.

Are you a songwriter? A painter? Do you long to play the banjo, barefoot in the moonlight? I urge you, amazing reader, to do one creative thing you’ve been longing after, even if YOU don’t think you’ll do it well. Do something as simple as purchasing a fresh pack of crayons and “doodle.” By engaging in creative self-care instead of self-criticism, you might unlock different perspective of yourself that has been dying to get “out” and you just may breathe a sigh of relief that you’re not yelling at yourself anymore, or getting in your own, creative way.

Self-care is about the “self.” Creativity minus critical self or external judgment unlocks and unblocks our potential to get to the next level in life and to not only feel better, but also behave better towards our fellow earthlings. When you engage in self-care, you literally make the world a better place.

Britt Flores is a freelance journalist and columnist for The Daily Courier. You can follow her advice on self-care on Twitter @bfloreswrites.

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