It’s like taking my inner critic out for ice cream — she gets real happy

January through March 2019, I will occasionally be sharing my honest thoughts and biased impressions, as well as any lessons learned, from the twelve-week course, The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron.

We’ve just been introduced to “affirmations.”

It’s week one. And my inner critic is in overdrive.

(We’re supposed to be in week two, you know.

Shut up, Gladys. I do what I want.

Yeah. Sure you do. Actually, you just do what you can manage, which is not much.

Shut. Up.)

I’ve been doing morning pages for about ten days, now — three pages of long-hand, stream-of-consciousness writing, every morning.

(You’re supposed to be doing this, you mean. You quit on Wednesday, remember?

I am not even going to dignify that with a reply.

Nope. ‘Cause you can’t.)

As of Monday, students were supposed to tack affirmations onto the end of morning pages.

(Yay!

*eye roll*)

I was excited about the prospect.

Until I started doing them, that is.

Turns out, personal affirmations are about, you know…actually affirming yourself.

And as someone who never felt she had the authority to do this, it’s a bit of a struggle.

Part of my problem has been choosing to use some of the printed affirmations in the book, instead of my own.

The ones in the book are attractive to me, but also beyond what I’m capable of at the moment.

Cameron’s spirituality may have roots that intertwine with following Jesus Christ, but the relationship is fuzzy. As someone who is in the process of renovating their faith, for me, there are far more questions than answers in the affirmations.

Examples:

“My creativity heals myself and others.”

Does it though? There are people out there who cause damage with their creativity, not healing — what if I’m one of them?

Activity > creativity. Do something useful.

“Through the use of my creativity, I serve God.”

Are you sure about this? I mean, it feels a lot like serving self. In fact, that was your rule this year…you’re writing for yourself. That doesn’t sound like “serving God.”

“My writing is good, and pleases God.”

How can you know? This sounds desperate. Like wishful thinking — that you’re writing is simply selfish, and not necessarily “God’s will” and you just hope it pleases God, because you want to do it.

See what I mean?

Julia Cameron tells students in the book to write down all the junk brought to the surface by the affirmations. “Blurts,” she titles them. And then, deal with them.

Easier said than done.

An affirmation brings questions, and doubt, which I then attempt to counter with truth, but I’m not always convinced of my own perceptions of truth, so I begin researching, and asking more questions, and remembering another topic that coincides with this question, and…yeah.

It’s exhausting.

Because I’m right in the middle of figuring out what I believe about God, humanity, and creativity, I don’t accept much of anything at face-value.

This makes working with affirmations more of a tip-of-the-iceberg experience, rather than a clarifying one.

Maybe that’s the point?

If nothing else, working through the course is highlighting the negativity versus positivity in my inner life.

I’ve typically been aware of this discrepancy, but working through the course has certainly brought it to the forefront. This is something I’m anticipating seeing change in.

(“Anticipating seeing change in”? Okay, first of all, that was SUPER passive-voice. Also, change isn’t just going to happen. You’ll have to do the work. And you’re lazy, remember?

Stuff it, Gladys. I’m busy.)

Change takes time.

So, I’m determined to be patient with myself.

Locking down the critic when she fusses about all I should be doing, or all I’m not keeping up with, or how my work can’t possibly serve God.

(Hey, you can’t —

Oh, yes I can, Gladys. Yes. I. Can.)

The good news is, I rarely believe my critic.

Occasionally it happens. But she’s becoming more background static than someone whose opinion I consider relevant. She’s part of the job, and part of being human.

Very occasionally, she has a decent point — like the passive voice statement. Probably true. But my goal is to make her work for me, instead of me being a slave to her judgments.

In conclusion, so far I’m no good at affirmations.

Wait. That sounded very inner-critic-y. Lemme fix that.

*clears throat*

I am very thorough in examining my work with affirmations, and I am learning a lot by doing them.

I intend to keep experimenting with them, sifting through the trash they bring to the surface, and trusting God to keep me centered on his truth, not mine.

I am looking forward to finding affirmations refreshing instead of draining — I think it’s possible.

(There.

Take that, Gladys.)

Inviting pew-weary Jesus people to embrace + experience their truest identity as beloved through subversive spiritual disciplines. Hope*Writer. Creative mentor.

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