Think back to when you were a kid. What were you told about your artistic abilities? Did your art teacher, parent, sibling, baby-sitter, friend, _____ (you fill in the blank) tell you to color within the lines? That the sky is supposed to be blue, not orange? That people are not made out of sticks? That you can’t draw? Many of us have heard these critical comments over and over again – to the point where we believed them and started repeating them to ourselves. Our own inner critic takes over and responds in fear when presented with opportunities to create. As a result, our inner artist has been wounded by years of trash talk and bullying. It’s time to get honest.
The truth is anyone (and I mean ANYONE) can draw. I urge you to take five minutes today and just put a pen to paper. Start scribbling. Switch hands. See what comes out. Let go of your expectations. Like any skill, drawing from reality takes practice.
Check out the art tab on my site. Would you believe me if I told you that I once thought “I can’t draw” too? In fact, this belief was so deeply ingrained I tried to avoid drawing at all costs. Imagine how hard that must have been in art school! Yeah, I couldn’t avoid it there. And, it was the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I went into my first drawing class with my inner critic fighting me the whole time. I was constantly comparing myself to others and telling myself “You can’t draw.” And, you know what? My drawings weren’t perfect (see images above). But, they improved over the years. I learned how to shut off the critic, so I could really see what I was drawing. I learned how to translate what I was seeing to the paper in front of me. I learned that sometimes my mistakes made my artwork better! With time and lots of practice, drawing got easier and I actually started to enjoy it. By the time I graduated college, I no longer told myself “I can’t draw.” I proved myself wrong.
It's amazing how much we let the lies we tell ourselves direct our lives. Had I not been forced to confront that inner critic and continue drawing for upwards of 12 hours each week, I likely wouldn’t be in the profession I’m in today. Think about the lies you tell yourself… “I can’t do this,” “I’m not good enough,” “They’re going to laugh at me,” and “I’m just going to fail.” Now, think of what you can say instead of these statements. Be honest with yourself and say it with passion. Try these on for size: “I’m trying my best,” “I am enough,” “Their opinions aren’t important to me,” and “I’m proud of the work I’ve been putting into this project.”
A simple shift in your own inner dialogue can make massive changes in your self-esteem, motivation, and the outcome of whatever it is you’re avoiding. So, get out of your own way! Maybe you can pick up that crayon after all…
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