Meeting Our Judge

Why is it that sometimes painting for process feels less flowing and more like a difficult task? Often fueling those less-pleasant experiences is a pesky little voice hiding out in the back of our heads. You may know the voice … It says things like “That looks terrible. You’re not an artist–What do you think you’re doing?!?” It tears us apart with hateful words that we would probably never unleash on another person, and yet the voice incessantly fills our minds. And what’s worse–we sometimes BELIEVE it.
One of the seeming-miracles process painting is that we get to glimpse an insight that can forever change our lives. Like practicing meditation, we can gain awareness of the subtle voices we carry around with us, and with attention we notice them, label them, and then do something extraordinary … we let them be. In other words, we don’t buy into what they’re saying. We don’t let the voice of limitation win anymore.
Sometimes it’s helpful to imagine what this judging voice would looks like if it took a physical form, and then invite it into your painting. It may look like a monster, or a strict parent, or a religious figure, or it may even look like a ridiculous frog trying so hard to taunt you! Often times when we bring it visually into the painting, the voice subsides or disappears altogether.
Where does this judging mind come from? It’s helpful to remember that we develop internal voices as survival mechanisms. These voices, as nasty as they may be, are actually trying to protect us. Rather than meeting outer harm and criticism, we attempt to judge ourselves first. It probably developed as a strategy from a very early age. But the question is: Is it still serving us now?
We invite you to notice the next time your inner commentary is rattling off and to ask yourself with curiosity “Who is this speaking?” What does it look like? Is it a clown, or a frog, or maybe a parent? See what happens when you bring compassion to that voice, and at the same time respectfully decline to buy into its story. You might find yourself surprised by the outcome.
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