"When negative self-talk robs us of our enthusiasm for our dreams, we're suffering from the classic creative block... Self-criticism can seriously injure potential talent that wants to be expressed."

These quotes from the book "Putting Your Talent to Work" by Lucia Capacchione and Peggy Van Pelt emphasize the damaging impact of some "inner dialogues" we may have with ourselves.

The authors note "Many of us perpetuate negative self-talk about talents that we don't accept."

One of their examples in the book of someone suffering from this kind of self-defeating thinking is Joanna - who wanted to start a new creative venture, a dress shop, but reported, "Every time I start actually working on the business plan or anything concrete that might take me closer to my goal, I hear this voice in my head... It nags and predicts doom until I get a splitting headache."

In her book on "recovering your creative self" - "The Artist's Way" - Julia Cameron writes about "core negative beliefs" and notes that a cliche such as "artists are promiscuous" can have destructive variations for a woman thinking of pursuing life as an artist: "No man will ever love you if you are an artist. Artists are either celibate or gay."

The point Cameron is making is that such beliefs, regardless of fact, can profoundly stifle creative expression and the life choices that enable creativity.

The authors of "Putting Your Talent to Work..." assure that "Fortunately, talent waits patiently behind our fear and self-doubt."

They describe in the book a powerful cognitive therapy kind of exercise that helped Joanna. Cognitive therapy can be as effective as drugs in treating depression and anxiety, and works by helping make conscious typically hidden automatic thinking, beliefs and self-talk.

When Joanna agreed try an exercise -- to speak out loud the comments she kept "hearing" from her nagging inner critic -- she realized, among other things, that this voice was essentially that of her condemning mother.

After getting more aware of this critical inner voice through counseling, plus journal-writing, Joanna was able to establish a successful business that engaged her creative talents.

There are many flavors of therapy and counseling, and I am not writing here to recommend or discount any. But I've experienced benefits from cognitive therapy myself, and I think it is a potentially valuable tool for better realizing creativity, for many people.

A number of creatively talented women actors have made comments about using therapy. Michelle Pfeiffer has commented: "I used to call therapy my part-time job."

Claire Danes said, "My therapist gives me permission to accept that I'm human" and Heather Graham (in an interview we did about one of her films) said, "Acting is telling a story, and you're part of telling that story... in some ways therapy helps more than acting class. You realize why you operate in certain ways."

Uncovering limiting kinds of beliefs and ways of thinking can do much to release creativity. And there are many techniques to help that uncovering: formal therapy; journal writing; even just thinking carefully about your reactions to a novel or film.

Our negative inner talk can be very limiting and destructive, but we can learn to change it.

Author's Bio: 

Douglas Eby writes about the psychology of creative expression and personal growth. His site has a wide range of articles, interviews, products and other resources to inform and inspire: Talent Development Resources.