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Excerpted from Meditations by Shakti Gawain. Copyright © 2002 by Shakti Gawain. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the New World Library. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"What stops us from being successful is the critic inside."

  Shakti Gawain, Meditations, Part 3

What stops us from being successful is the critic inside that says, "Youíre not very smart," "Youíre not very talented," "You donít know how to do this right," "Youíre not as good as so-and-so," "Youíre not as good as you should be," or "Look at what you did, thatís not any good," "Thatís ridiculous," "Thatís inadequate." We all have, to some degree, that self-criticism. Those of us who have allowed our creativity to flow in our lives have managed in one way or another to set our critic aside long enough to let the energy come through spontaneously.

Dealing with the inner critic is difficult; thereís no simple solution. The first step is to recognize your internal critic, to begin to notice what it says to you, and to begin to get in touch with where the voice comes from. For most of us, it began very early in our lives when we were children, when we received criticism from our parents or our siblings or our teachers or those around us, who said, "You donít do that well enough," or "You didnít do that right," or "Youíre a bad boy or girl," and weíve incorporated that criticism. Beginning to become aware of your inner critic, to acknowledge it and notice where it comes from, can start to free you from automatically believing it.

It doesnít seem to help very much simply to try to make the critic shut up. The critic is a strong voice inside us. The key is to begin to notice it and to think to yourself, "Now, do I need to believe this?" "Is this really true?" "Do I have to let this run my life?" "Do I have to let this stop me?"

By asking these questions you can eventually get to a place where you listen to the critic, you acknowledge what it has to say, and then you go ahead and do what you want to do anyway. You could say to yourself "Okay, critic, thank you for sharing your point of view. Now Iím going to go ahead and do this, and even if it isnít perfect, Iím going to do it anyway because I think itíll be fun, or because I want to try something new and Iím willing to let myself be like a child. Iím willing to play, try something and risk and experiment and learn in the process. If I donít do it perfectly, fine; Iíll do it again and Iíll do it better next time. Or Iíll forget it and do something else. It doesnít really matter."

Creativity requires play. It requires fun. It requires a sense of adventure. Learn to look at things a little more lightly and not take them so seriously. If we take ourselves too seriously, we canít have that adventurousness that allows us to explore in new places.

One good way to deal with the critic and begin to free more of your creativity is by using some clearing processes. If you have a journal or if you want to start a journal, try writing your creative voice and then writing any blocks or inhibitions you have about that creative voice. Or try writing the voice of your critic. Write it all down so you can see objectively what it is that stops you, what concepts of yourself you have that stop you from being able to be creative.

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