Can you Tell when Judgment Creep Snuffs Out your Creative Spark?

creativespark, judgment creep


Have you ever dealt with judgement creep? It’s the naggy, negative self-talk that drips with comments about unmet expectations and snuffs out your creative spark.


On the low end of the spectrum, judgement creeps starts out as a subtle sense that some of your creative projects or work feels “off”. You are unsatisfied with what you’ve created or place your focus on “getting it right” next time. It may take a little time, but after some space you can see the value in your creation and in the experience it offered you.


On the high end, this inner “buzz killer” reaches a “code red” level, making you feel unable to create anything of real value – so you don’t even bother.


Along this spectrum, the middle ground is actually the most challenging. It’s where the judgement creep is loud enough that you hear it in the background fairly regularly, but have no idea how harsh it is, how harsh you are being on yourself. It feels normal because it isn’t extreme and feels so natural, but creeps into everything. These negative, judgmental thoughts are like old best friends you’ve outgrown, but you keep them around for nostalgia’s sake.


The middle ground is where most people tend to show up along the scale. So how do you shift something that isn’t easy to notice? Learn the signs, words and nuances part of your “brand” of judgment creep, and find a way to crack that old CD constantly playing on repeat.




Common Signs of Judgment Creep and Breaking the Cycle


Judgment creep is like a fly trapped in your home. It buzzes, smacks into windows and screens, flutters about your head and is hard to catch – unless you practice how to capture it quickly and finally set it free.


Here are some common signs of judgment creep:

  • You create expectations about a project, person, day or yourself that are never met as you envisioned
  • Inability to accept a compliment about your work or creative expression
  • Feeling whatever you create is good, but before you celebrate your accomplishment, you think about how it could be better
  • You hesitate to start anything because you can’t see the “big picture” or the specific steps to make it perfect right away
  • There’s always a reason why you aren’t good enough at something
  • You often have rewind pangs about what have worked “better” – also known as shoulda, woulda, coulda
  • There’s no room to just be yourself and feel comfortable, free of anxiety or you never truly allow others to see the real you (because you aren’t sure who the real you is behind the judgment).




The Way We Learn is by Practicing to Catch and Release the Fly


Judgment is part of being human. We do it to each other, to ourselves and to the events we see happening every day because it’s such an ingrained part of our culture.


When you strive to be yourself and silence the inner judgmental voice, you aren’t just making the effort to change yourself, you are bucking the system. That’s why it can feel like a challenge to shift to something more positive and break the tape in the background – it matches the tapes of so many others.


Keeping an eye on your judgment creep truly is a moment by moment act of awareness that’s a life-long commitment.


I’m very familiar with my own inner judgments featuring perfectionism and the management I’ve had to do around my own self- expression. It’s also made me into a stronger, more self-aware person so in many ways I consider my judgment creep a gift.


Take time to connect with your flies and really listen to what they are buzzing about, why they follow you around. It’s the best way to make friends with them and use what they tell you to grow, instead of judging they’re hanging around you in the first place.


Need a little help tackling your own judgment creep? Connect with me and let’s see what those old tapes are really saying. Just want a little extra support to kick-start your creativity? Grab a copy of my Mini Guide to Connecting with your Inner Guidance and Creative Fire.


Photo credit: Spark, seemsartless, davidden