Join with those who sing, tell stories, take pleasure in life, and have joy in their eyes, because joy is contagious and can prevent others from becoming paralyzed by depression, loneliness, and difficulties. ~Paulo Coelho (From The Archer)
I almost surrendered to the negativity of my own inner critic this week. My inner critic has a name, Professor Zizzle. He is a nasty little man with a rotund belly and thinning hair. Filled with hubris and contempt for any enthusiasm I might exhibit, especially when it comes to writing. "You aren't literary enough." "Your writing is too simple, your vocabulary under-developed." "Your current novel that you're writing is entirely a mess. Why do you even bother continuing to write?" I almost caved. Yet I continued to view the email in my box regarding a writing contest for submission of an "in-progress" novel excerpt. Over the last months, I'd written about 35,000 words on the novel. I knew it was truly a rough draft, but there was a child-like voice inside me that transcended Professor Z's unending negative yammering. That vulnerable voice whispered, "What do you have to lose? You've written some good prose. You love your characters. They have voices too. Maybe they need to be heard. Give it a go. It's all about the 'not giving up, the moving forward.' Damn the outcome. That's not the main point. The priority is to keep taking risks."
Part of the reason Professor Zizzle lost is because of my cadre of "believing mirrors." Julia Cameron, author, and who is described as "the queen of change," defines the concept of "believing mirrors" as "persons who reflect back to you your possibility and your strength." I have a circle of safe people who believe in me. They are a group who encourage me to keep writing. I've had some experience with those who believe they have good intentions with their negative and pessimistic judgments regarding my creative efforts. This kind of feedback is hurtful, like someone knocking the hope and light right out of my grasp. Believing mirrors do not lie. They don't tell you only what you want to hear. They say things like, "You've spent a lot of time on this project. I love 'x' about it. I wonder if you could tell me a little bit more about 'y.' Whatever you do, keep on going." These joyful ones help me hold on to hope and light.
What about you? Who are your believing mirrors? I encourage you to increase connections with them. Resist your inner critic and think twice about sharing your creative projects with those who are unsupportive. Paulo Coelho goes on to say: Join with all those who experiment, take risks, fall, get hurt, and then take more risks. Stay away from those who affirm truths, who criticize those who do not think like them, people who have never once taken a step unless they were sure they would be respected for doing so, and who prefer certainties to doubts. Join with those who are open and not afraid to be vulnerable; they understand that people can improve only once they start looking at what their fellows are doing, not in order to judge them, but to admire them for their dedication and courage."
And then think about this: Who might you be a believing mirror for?