We all have one.

That voice in your head that points out every flaw and mistake.

It keeps us from trying new things and putting ourselves out there.

And when you are trying to explore your creativity, the inner critic seems to have a heyday.

“You’re not an artist. You’re just wasting your time and money.”

“You’ll never do that right.”

“You’re just going to embarrass yourself.”

“You don’t have the skill and talent to do that.”

“Only special, gifted people can make art.”

“You’re going to be creative? What’s next? Are you going to perform in a park for money and smell like patchouli?”

Any of those sound familiar? You can probably add a few of your own that you’ve heard over the years.

It’s pretty annoying, right?

How do you get that voice to shut up already? Try these five things to silence your inner critic.

Write It All Down

Just let your inner critic go crazy! Write down everything that comes into your head. All of it. Getting the words out of your head and onto paper will help you detach and take some of the sting out of what you’re hearing.

Once you’ve written it all down, take a look at it. What kind of arguments is your inner critic putting up? Do you see comments you might have heard from a parent, teacher or someone else? When and where did you first hear them? Do you recognize a familiar voice?

Think of Yourself as a Child

Looking over those comments, can you imagine saying those things to five-year-old you? What about your child or niece/nephew? Or even just a random kid. What about your best friend or spouse? Chances are, you would never want to say those things to someone you love. If you would never tell a child or your best friend those things, why would you want to level all of that manure on yourself?

Where’s the Truth

Another thing to do with those inner criticisms is to really ask yourself if any of those comments are true. I mean REALLY true. How about the opposite? Can you think of any examples? The mind loves evidence and it’s time to take your inner critic to court. What proof does it offer? Can you prove the exact opposite is true?

Invite Your Critic for the Ride

Your inner critic is a part of you and comes from your own fears. As Elizabeth Gilbert writes about in “Big Magic“, one of the best ways to handle fear is to bring it along with you (it’s not going anywhere any how.) Invite your fear for the ride, but firmly let it know that it is NOT in the driver’s seat. You can treat your inner critic the same way, it can join you on your creative excursion, but let it know that it isn’t going to have any say in how you perform or create your art.

It may seem hard to do that, but when you consider that your inner critic is basically your fear and your fear is there to keep you safe, then it might be easier to think kindly on it. Your critic wants to keep you safe from disappointment and embarrassment, that’s nice, but it’s just going about it the wrong way and by keeping you safe, it is also keeping you small and your creativity buried.

Thank it for its good intentions, but keep yourself and your creativity in the driver’s seat.

Just Do It

It’s well-known line for a reason. There comes a time in every endeavor when all of the thinking, strategizing, excuses and worrying just has to stop and you need to get on with it.

Van Gogh said it best.

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” Vincent van Gogh

It’s time to silence that inner critic and get on the road with your wild creative side.