Why Are We Our Own Worst Critics?


Every now and then, I find myself falling into slumps.

Some are deeper than others, and recently, I feel as though I’ve slipped into one that’s soaking up all my creative energy. I think time has a lot to do with it, and right now, I’ve been having difficulty striking the right balance between the creative and analytical sides of my job. I enjoy both facets, but creating is what fuels me. If I step away for too long, that’s when I start to lose inspiration and motivation.

Today was the first day in a while where I got to spend the majority of the workday in my element: Sorting through photos that I’ve taken over the past couple months, choosing my favorites, and adding in some edits here and there. With the right music and a good setting, I could edit for hours. There’s nothing I love more about my job, and it’s truly such a treat that I get to call this work.



There’s this thing though… this thing that holds me back when I’ve been away from my canvas for too long. I’ll get back to the drawing board, and not really know where to begin. With my edits, I’ll go through phases depending on the type of photos I’ve been taking and where I’m at in my life. If I’m producing images everyday, I get into a groove where I’m constantly inspired, and constantly wanting to create more. But when one of these creative slumps comes along, it’s like I lose all vision of what I’m trying to produce. I’ve caught myself stuck on the same image for half the day, never really hitting the target on what I want it to look like. I’ll keep going back to try something different, but then it just gets to the point where I’m overthinking it. Overthinking…

That’s exactly what this “thing” is. It’s my own perspective, my own head, my own critiques… its simply me. I’m sure you’ ve heard the saying “You’re your own worst critic.” But why? Why are we so hard on ourselves?



It’s all about confidence. This is what I keep telling myself. I need to believe that what I’m producing looks good. But then again, what makes something good? That’s just it though. In art, there’s no such thing as good or bad. It’s about how you look at something, and what you take away from it. More importantly, it’s that the artist is happy with their work.

When I’m feeling discouraged, I take a step back and look at what I’m creating, but I look at the bigger picture. When I start focusing too much on the little details, that’s when I overthink. The producer (more often than not) is going to view their work in a different way than the looker. As I work my way out of this slump, I’m trying to be less self-critical and more confident in my vision. If what I’m doing is making me happy, that’s all that really matters. And if it’s helping to inspire others, that’s cool too ;)


+Why do you think we’re our own worst critics? How do you get past creative slumps?

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7 years ago

Jan, you could take a picture with a flip phone of a crumpled up receipt in the garbage, and it’d still be the coolest thing. Your unique perspective is what makes your work so incredible, and the fact that I can literally zero in on one image out of a thousand and say “Oh, I bet Jana took that” — that’s something you should be beyond proud of. When we create from the heart, we infuse our uniqueness into everything we do without even having to think about it. And gurl, that’s what you do every single day. <3

7 years ago

This is literally the story of my life. I spend hours endlessly bashing myself and hating myself for what I don’t have rather than glorifying what I do. And it constantly makes me feel like a failure.

7 years ago

I’ve been in such a similar place in my life so many times in the past year. I definitely think that, like you said, time has so much to do with it. I find that I doubt myself the most when I try to focus on my creative work after a long break. There are also times when inspiration strikes and I have all these ideas, but I just don’t have time to focus on creative projects.


7 years ago

the thing that really gets me is comparing myself to others. that really puts my writing in a state of paralysis ! so for me the thing to do is to write solo and write in the wee hours of the morning…at 3am my inner critic is still asleep…. such a terrific post! thank you for sharing….

The Weaver Of Words…..give me 15 words and I’ll tell you a tale

7 years ago

Anytime I fall into a slump I take a deep breath, grab my stick bundle, and count back from 1,000…somewhere in the monotony of loosing count I actualize into the form of a panda. a panda out for revenge.

7 years ago

Jana, thank you so much for this. It’s how I feel constantly in my current position right now, which is a bit similar to yours. I think our age has to do with the confidence too, being in your mid to late 20’s in the professional space can be nerve-wracking and hinders confidence and creative energy. Just know you’re not alone.

7 years ago

Jana, this post is beautiful. It is raw. No matter what we tackle in life, we can fall into slumps where we question the “success” or quality of what we are doing. Success is such an ambiguous term… I use to think it meant making a lot of money or having a fancy job title. I am light years from that meaning now. I agree with you, from the depths of my soul, that if you are doing something that makes you happy, then you are more successful than most. Even when you aren’t feeling inspired yourself, know YOU are still inspiring. I just launched a blog and creative outlet and it has been terrifying and this post is a conversation I have had with myself over and over again. But, to be doing something you love, and to believe in yourself… it is a true gift.

7 years ago

I find myself at this road block through most of my creativity. But I have learned that what I create is only special to me. If it reaches others- that that is the beauty of art. If it does not, than we take what we can get as an artist. We reach certain roadblocks through our lives because we are ever evolving. Such a beautiful thought.

Happiness is key. It’s been known: we can always tell others that but the journey within our own souls is delicate, special and specifically catered to us and us only. This is a beautiful piece of writing- raw, daring and filled with emotion and vulnerability that people who truly know how to feel can relate to. Keep on creating; we will never know if it is good enought to the public, but of it is good enough for ourselves what else can we ask for.

7 years ago

I’m not sure why we’re so critical of ourselves. I think that kind of disposition can be both a blessing and a curse. There will always be slumps, no matter the who, what, where, when, why and how.

When I get into creative slumps, I try to wait it out. This probably sounds like the worst idea when there are deadlines to be met and goals you want to accomplish, but usually when I don’t think about it, the best ideas come to me and I’m able to bust through the creative block.

Dee | http://www.daundra.com/blog

7 years ago

Absolutely! Especially as women, negative self talk is such a common, awful habit. It’s so useful to be aware of it! It truly can hold us back – but be courageous!

Warm Regards,

7 years ago

I can TOTALLY relate to this post. Thank you so much for writing this. You have inspired me, so you are doing something right :) I am the owner of a handmade jewelry business, Found Wanderer. I have been creating jewelry for years and I have found myself in a big slump lately. I recently graduated college and I am in a weird place in life. I have still be creating but I have doubted myself at times. The questions you ask yourself are questions I ask myself everyday. I think because we see things from our own eyes, not from other peoples, hurts us at times. We see what we see over and over, but there are millions of other eyes out there looking at our work which we tend to forget. Sometimes we have to inspire ourselves before we can be inspired!

Best of luck to you!

Kacey Royer

6 years ago

Thank you for the post! I am feeling like this because I am just starting out my blog and it is hard with 2 part time jobs.

I also wanted to say I love your pictures and how you edited them and inspired me to create beautiful pictures like that.

Thanks again and have a great day!