Creative Flow with Denise Jacobs


Today’s episode features author, speaker, and creative evangelist Denise Jacobs. She’s spoken at Creative Mornings, Adaptive Path, TEDx and more, and is the author of Banish Your Inner Critic, which dives into some of the most important subjects for creative women leaders today.

In this episode, Denise breaks down creativity’s two opposing forces: creative flow and the inner critic. She shares her insights on how women are socialized to take on more than we need to, offers some of the most practical tips for producing and maintaining a state of creative flow, and provides an array of tools for managing your inner critic.

Subscribe and listen to the full episode here (you must subscribe to receive latest episode).

Highlighted Excerpt:

Majo: In your book you talk about these two modes: creative flow, and the inner critic. Can you tell us a little bit about these two modes and how they interact?

Denise: Well, the thing I love about creative flow is that when you ask people about how they feel when they’ve been in “flow”, two things happen. The first thing is that every single person can relate. I’ve never talked to anybody who didn’t know what that was or had never experienced it.

The second thing is, everybody has similar experiences or say similar things about being in creative flow. Like, they feel happy, energized, focused, empowered, elated, ecstatic, “I lost track of time”, you know? All of these words that people use are the same. So I love the fact that there’s this experience that people have, and everyone knows exactly what it is and what it feels like.

The thing I think is sad is that nobody seems to know how to make creative flow happen at will. Part of what I have discovered in my own life is that flow happens when the inner critic is silent. That’s what drove me to write the book in the first place. I had an experience where my inner critic finally shut up after eight months of me writing my book and designing my websites. And while my inner critic was quiet, this power of creativity just rushed through me and it felt amazing.

The inner critic is in those nagging thoughts, the fears of, “Is it good enough? Do I know enough? Are people going to laugh at me or judge me? How do I measure up compared to what are other people doing?” All these kinds of thoughts create a cacophony of distraction. And as soon as your mind starts going to that place, you literally can not reach a flow state. The inner critic completely blocks it.

Majo: I love what you say in the book, “Some indications are obvious, like causing us to criticize everything we do or shooting down every idea we come up with, but others are more subtle.” I think this is a really good point. Can you share a little more about the subtle ways the inner critic shows up? Where people might not even realize it’s their inner critic driving the process?

Denise: Yes, an example of this happening is when you’re just going along, working on whatever, and all of the sudden you feel tired and want a nap. Or you may start to feel apathetic – you go from totally interested to disengaged. Or you start questioning yourself… these are indicators that your inner critic is showing up in a subtle way.

Majo: And how do we deal with that? How do we deal with our inner critic?

Denise: It’s really important to recognize the way your inner critic is showing up so you can deal with that particular guise.

Majo: So, depending on how your inner critic shows up, you would use a different tool?

Denise: Yes, exactly.

Show Notes:

  • Denise’s self-consciousness about being extremely tall as a little girl, and how she found solace in reading stacks of books and developing a sense of humor. [1:36]

  • On being told by a teacher that she was a perfectionist (which she later realized was not a compliment), and becoming aware of her inner critic. [5:45]

  • The aha moment Denise had after swirling in self-doubt and fear while working on her last book. [9:38]

  • The teaching experience that helped her realize her passion for speaking to people and her gift for being on stage. [14:27]

  • Diving into her book: How creative flow and the inner critic interact, and practical tips for recognizing and dealing with the latter. [16:03]

  • How to train your inner critic and recognize when it’s showing up in subtle ways. [22:52]

  • On dealing with overwhelm, reframing situations in ways that empower us, and the importance of To-Don’t lists. [28:27]

  • On being aware of our comparison triggers in the age of social media, how women are socialized to take on more than they need to, and Denise’s final words of wisdom. [34:57]

Subscribe and listen to the full episode here (you must subscribe to receive latest episode).


Find out more about Denise (speaking calendar, workshops, blog, & more)

Find her book, Banish Your Inner Critic


by Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs

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