The past few weeks I have been sharing my progression on a small pictorial quilt from my travels in Ireland in September. It is now complete and I am free to sit back and just enjoy it. However, the process of creating it was not always that enjoyable.
I mentioned my frustrations last week (and thanks to all who wrote and offered me some perspective and suggestions). As I continued working, I recognized the roller coaster of emotions that I experienced as all too familiar. My internal critic is only too happy to point out the weaknesses in my work. To an extent that is an asset as it allows me to make adjustments along the way. But, there comes a point where that internal critic is non-productive. Listening to it can create blockages to continuing work on the piece if one gives up from disappointment. It also can drown out another voice – for me it is the magical moment when the art piece ‘speaks’ and begins to direct me in its completion. So, how to know when to stop listening?
Recently I finished a book by Dan Harris, 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in my Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help that Actually Works. While I have mixed feelings about the book, one of the points he makes in his writing relates to just that question – when to stop listening and shut off that voice? The answer: Ask yourself the question, Is this Useful?
Fortunately, I reached the point in creating my Irish piece where I asked myself just that question. It didn’t actually stop that critical voice but I simply observed it and actually smiled a bit at its points. In self-help jargon, you might say that as I embraced the critic, it lost its power over me. I simply kept stitching. And, as I continued to build the pictorial as I had planned, I liked it more and more. It actually became fun to embellish it. I like to think that a positive mind overwhelmed the negative and made the whole experience joyful. It certainly added to the value of the project!
As always, I will link to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.