passionIsn’t it?  You have that passion…think back:  When you were about 6 or 7 what did you get engrossed in?  What could you do for hours and not even notice the time passing? Then life happened and you had to earn a living, have kids and all.  But here and now is a fresh new chapter in your life, in which to pursue your passion; are you not in anguish if you don’t do it?  And isn’t  that anguish–from denying your passion–a form of self-abuse?  That is, aren’t you the one deciding to deny yourself the pursuit of your passion? Further, if you are abusive to yourself when practicing or pursuing your talent, critiquing every line, every note, every move of the foot, isn’t that self-abuse? When you chide yourself for not practicing your art, ask yourself this:

Am I avoiding my art practice  because I can’t stand another session of cruelty inflicted on me from my inner critic?

I found out why I never wanted to practice, when I realized what I was saying in my head, and sometimes out loud, was so counterproductive and downright abusive, cruel and sadistic. I thought about some bad boss or parent who treats a person like this, and then says, “What is the matter with you? Why are you so lazy?” I don’t approve of those people, yet I was being just like that to myself. NO MORE !!! When I stopped it, I increased practice time from 0 to 3 hours.  When I not only stopped being cruel, but started being kind and loving and gentle to myself when practicing, and caring  for myself as one would a little child playing with a new discovery/instrument/color crayons… I increased the time to 6 hours a day.  Now I can keep going indefinitely.  My plan is to play 6 hours a day for the next 600 days and see how my jazz riffs and improvisation are at that point.  THEN let that critic try and tell me I suck at jazz guitar.  HA! The silver lining in playing music or doing other arts is that you find out that cruel person is in there, and you cannot allow it anymore. If you did not do your art, that person would be in your head being cruel all the time —you would not notice the damage being caused. The art is the vehicle that necessitates you becoming the person you want to be, the kind of person you would admire, respect and cherish. When you decide to create beauty and meaning with your art, you have an automatic inner therapist/coach who helps you to release the baggage, low self-esteem, and soar with your talents…

The following is an excerpt from “Unstuck” by Jane Ann Staw which discusses this issue. This book is great for those faced with writer’s block and similar afflictions:

(When afflicted with writer’s block), “to write is self-punishment, each word a weapon that will be used against you.  Understanding this danger, you can begin to see that it’s not because you write best to deadline, or because you are discouraged, that you cannot sit down to write. It is because writing exposes you to a barrage of your own insults and criticism. Knowing, even unconsciously that we are setting ourselves up as targets for such abuse we…” (would be crazy if we DIDN’T avoid writing).

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