Everyone’s got one; some of us know ours well, others of us are just getting acquainted. I’m referring to what Julia Cameron calls the Censor in her book, The Artist’s Way. She describes it perfectly as “our own internalized perfectionist, a nasty internal and eternal critic” (p. 11).
Censors have voices and they say awful things. Their sole purpose is to take us down! They make us feel inadequate and discourage us from continuing on, even in the face of success. They invade our thoughts during our creative process – when I’m trying to think of a great way to write something, my Censor will tell me that someone else has already said it, and has said it better. How rude! It’s a horrible thing to hear when I’m sitting at the computer, full of hope that my words will reach people. I can’t tell you how many times I hear mine telling me I am too old to start a new career, or that I’ve lost my chance to get to the level of fitness I’d like. It’d be nice if I could evict my Censor from that logical left brain of mine where he’s made himself comfortable over the years.
I’ve discovered that getting to know him a bit – why he is the way he is, understanding that what he’s saying is NOT coming from a place of Truth – has helped me stick my tongue out at him when he shows his face.
My Censor looks like Mr. Burns from the Simpsons. He’s 100 years old, gnarled and warty with a look of evil glee every time he spouts a new put-down at me. Since getting to know him, I’ve learned he is lonely, unloved and bitter about his own existence. His derogatory comments don’t really have anything to do with ME so what he’s saying is not true. I just happen to be the lucky recipient of his anguish. This makes him way less intimidating, doesn’t it? It doesn’t make it easier to hear the things he has to say, especially if it’s feeding my own fear, but it does make it more possible to ignore his comments.
I would encourage you to notice your own Censor and see him/her/it for what it is. What does it look like? What kinds of negative things does it tell you? What is your reaction when you hear them? It’s worth exploring your Censor in your journal or in your task binder – whatever you’ve created to help you in your journey. Sketch a profile of your Censor if you wish. Some people like to keep their Censor visible where they work creatively…marked with a big, fat, red X, of course, to remind themselves that their Censor is actually someone to be censored! I’ll log these prompts with the others. Any questions or comments? I’d love to hear them!