Cynthia Morris and Affectionate Awareness

I was going to try to write something on much the same topic.  This weekend several members of my critique group were beyond discouraged.  I had one of those days yesterday.  Honestly, why can’t they just load a veterinary tranquilizer with dark chocolate and save everyone from my moods?  But then I was catching up on e-mail (ie not writing because I was in a mood and my inner brat was in control) when I came on this article.  I’ve posted it here with Cynthia’s permission.  Cynthia is one of those people who never fails to inspire me.  I am definitely going to play with these exercises today and will get back to you next week with the initial results.–SueBE

The creative process always involves some destruction!


Tune in to Affectionate Awareness and Feel a Lot Happier

by Cynthia Morris

Deep in the process of my novel’s revision, I’ve seen myself move through elation, aha exuberance, despair anger, frustration and determination.  My inner critic has been piping up, too.  Here’s his contribution:

  • You’re not a real writer.
  • You can’t really write a novel.
  • See? It’s not good enough and it never will be.
  • You don’t know how to write.
  • How the heck are you going to pull this off?

I hear the voice, take a deep sigh and plunge in.  But as you can see, I often feel like I’m padding out of my depth, riding the waves of the creative process and barely staying afloat.

Then one day, while taking my necessary nap or “noodling” time, I recalled a strategy I use with my clients, but with a twist.

I said to myself, “What if you adopt an affectionate perspective? Like a sweet big sister who absolutely loves and believes in you.”

I tried it. “Oh, sweetie, I understand why you’re scared. It’s okay. You can do it.” And it worked. I immediately felt lighter and more relaxed. Now, when I’m irritable or impatient (behaviors I’ve noticed really just mask my fears) I ask that voice for help.

Feeling empowered by this new perspective, I mentioned it to a friend. She told me she referred to this voice as affectionate awareness. When I’m coaching clients or training writers to develop a healthy writing practice, I call this voice the champion. It’s the opposite of your inner critic, and it thinks you’re the most amazing creator in the world. This part of you completely believes that you can make whatever you want.

This strategy works even better with use of the word “affectionate.”  This immediately conjures up a feeling of tenderness and compassion. It’s like pushing a love button – the word “affectionate” almost instantly changes my mood and pushes those negative emotions and fears aside.

Words carry power.  And when dealing with our inner critic, we need strategies that work.  What word shifts you from creative despair to creative optimism?


I think of my friend and coaching colleague Kathy Loh to
help remember affectionate awareness

Today, right now even, tune in to your champion. Offer yourself affectionate awareness. When you have 15 minutes, grab a pen and befriend your champion. Try this:

  • interview your champion
  • write a character sketch: her looks, tastes, beliefs, name . . .
  • choose a word that triggers your love button, or use affectionate

Remember that your champion can be as vocal as your critic — but much more helpful.  Listen to it when it encourages you to keep going.  Pay attention when she reminds you that your efforts are worth it even if you don’t see results right away.

What word invites your champion to the scene? How often do you listen to her input? Share your champion with us!

Copyright 2010 Cynthia Morris. Cynthia coaches creative people to confidence and completion and inspires life as a creative adventure. Visit http://www.originalimpulse.com to get an infusion of inspiration for your art, writing and life.


2 thoughts on “Cynthia Morris and Affectionate Awareness

  1. SueBE,
    Thanks for posting this article. I’m so glad it’s helping to ease some of the discomfort and despair we often find in the writing life. I hope others find inspiration from it too!

    Keep writing!

    1. I am sure they will! And I really am going to do those exercises. Plus one. I want to find/create a picture of my champion and put it on the wall above my monitor.
      –SueBE

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