A friend recently sent me a quote on Twitter. It reads as follows:
My religion is simple. My religion is kindness.
This incredibly powerful – yet simple statement – grabbed my attention. I have been mulling over the idea of kindness ever since, not because I find it difficult to be kind to other people or even to be kind in general, but because I find it incredibly hard to be kind to myself. Even more so on a creative level.
It’s unclear to me where this unkindness towards my creative self stems from, although I’m sure Dr. T (a cognitive behavioural therapist) would be able to spell it out quite neatly for me if I asked him to. I have no doubt, however, that there are, most probably, a myriad of origins from which the unkindness could spring from. For me (and here Dr. T would be proud of me) the more relevant line of questioning is: “What am I able to do about it now?” and “In what way could I address this?”
There are no quick fixes to this layered level of unkindness. It requires constant awareness. Awareness to what, you may ask? The unkindness of the (eternal) internal critic. The Barefoot Doctor, who gives Taoist wisdom for everyday living in his book Dear Barefoot, deals with his internal critic in quite a creative way:
The way I do it – it’s very childish – is to picture that critic sitting in that great cinema within, watching (critically) the movie of my life story as it unfolds in my forebrain. I then approach him authoritatively and escort him round the back of the house, and there, standing against the wall, give him a (respectful) slap … and firmly tell him to shut up. He can come back in and enjoy the movie, but he has to keep his thoughts to himself.
This barefoot, simplistic and creative way works for me, although it sometimes also fails. However, the awareness of the unkindness of the critic towards your creativity means you are half way there to giving him that respectful slap.