That inner critic - it shows up when we least expect it sometimes. Even when we feel like we've moved past something, it can have a way of sneaking in to remind us we have more work to do. My inner critic's voice often tells me that I'm not good enough. This was triggered for me this past week somewhere that I did not expect it to - during my prep for a busy bag exchange.
Contrary to what people might think because of my passion for using art therapy in my counselling practice; crafty & artistic things do not come naturally to me. In fact, many times in the past I have said "I don't have a creative bone in my body!" I've worked really hard on noticing and embracing the creativity that is within me (we all have it!), and accepting myself as I am.
But then came along the Busy Bag Exchange.
There's nothing like being up late finishing off some crafts for a busy bag exchange that gets your anxiety going in overdrive, with shame & judgement kicking in! Or is that just me?
I had big plans but couldn't find exactly what I had in mind. I kept procrastinating, trying to come up with something "better" and ended up doing the majority of it the night before the exchange, unhappy with what I had settled on doing, and thinking that it wasn't "good enough". The other moms have posted pics of theirs, and of course I thought that their's were are all amazing!!
My inner critic was in overdrive, shouting: "YOU'RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH"!
I tried to think of ways to change my project, ways to get out of the exchange altogether, ways to make sure that nobody would find out which ones were mine.
I reached out to a few friends and shared how ashamed I was about my busy bag activity. They gave me the support and the reality check I needed to climb out of my shame attack and breathe into a healthier awareness that what I had done was GOOD ENOUGH! (Just the act of sharing alone is de-shaming, by the way!) I'm now letting go of my disappointment in my busy bag creation, letting go of the thoughts that I'm not good enough. So what if it's not as pretty or crafty as some of the other ones? The point of this exchange is to get different activities for our kids to enjoy. Not to become the craftiest mom on the block. ;)
I'm very curious about how this was triggered in what was supposed to be a fun, light hearted activity.
This reminded me of why I love using Art Therapy with my clients. The arts are so powerful that they have this incredible ability to draw out what is hiding in our subconscious - even when we are engaging in creative activities that seem "lighthearted".
Art therapy can stir so much up and bring many things to the surface that we either didn't know were there - or that we were trying to ignore.
In this situation with the busy bags, I was able to let go of that perfectionism and find some acceptance in this experience; however, I know that the shame I felt stemmed from something deeper. It can be so easy to resolve the surface issues and move on - without looking into what brought it up in the first place - but that is not going to help in the long term. Fortunately, I will be getting an Art Therapy session myself this weekend, so I will have an opportunity to process my experience with this and the "I'm not good enough" voice a little bit further!
What do YOU do when you find yourself going down the slippery slope of comparisons that lead to the "I'm not good enough" voice?
Jen is a counsellor and psychotherapist in Calgary, Alberta. If you are interested in booking a session with her or attending one of her groups or workshops, visit The Essence of You website or Contact Jen directly.