The following transcript is from episode one of The Path to Authenticity. Upon release of the third edition of her book The Power of Your other Hand, inner child expert Lucia Capacchione, Ph.D. talks about growing up in the creative atmosphere of Hollywood. She tells us how, more than once, her own inner child has brought her back from debilitating physical illness. She recounts the evolution of her career from artist, to schoolteacher, art therapist, psychologist, author, and consultant. Hear her conversation with host, Tom Gentry, on episode one of The Path to Authenticity. To learn more about Lucia, click here. Click here for her Amazon page.
Host, Tom Gentry (TG): Lucia, how are you?
Guest, Lucia Capacchione (LC): Doing very, very well. I just had cataract surgery and I have new eyes. So, that’s really a gift but great blessing.
TG: So, the colors are more vivid?
LC: Oh yes, textures, colors everything. It’s just a whole new world. It’s fabulous.
TG: That’s great. Well, first of all, I just want to thank you for taking the time to do this with me. It’s an honor, really, to talk to you and. You know, your work has just affected so many people, and as we’ve prepared for this, just giving it thought, I’ve been excited about it. And, I’ve thought a lot about what I wanted to talk to you about, and just how common the term inner child is, how prevalent it is, in the helping profession. And, just to be able to talk to the person who started that whole movement. I’m really, really happy about it. So, if you don’t mind, tell me a little bit about your childhood and what your family was like.
LC: Well, my childhood really figured into what I became later, because I was very blessed to have a family who were very creative. My father was a film editor in Hollywood, and I was exposed at a very early age to some amazing talent. So, people like Judy Garland, and my father worked on movies with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. And so, I got to go see those musicals, usually at the previews. There were sneak previews in those days, and I got to see them before they were released into theaters. And, that was very fun. And, I also got taken on the set, occasionally to see movies being shot, and to be around the actual creative process, which is very different than what you see on the screen, of course.
TG: I’m sure it is.
LC: And of course, in that business, there are a lot of very creative people. And, I observed at close hand how the inner child, the creative child, is expressed through the arts. And, so that was a great gift for me to grow up with that.
TG: So, I’m assuming that when you were really young, you couldn’t quite connect the dots that that’s what it was – the inner child, that those are dots you connected later on.
LC: Definitely. Yeah, definitely. And, one of the things that I noticed later on was that all of the great teachers and mentors that I had, had very, very powerful and very spontaneous inner child energy. And, that was what drew me to them. And, I didn’t realize that, in my first career as an artist and designer, until I got into psychology later on, which is my third career But, my second career was child development. And, it is no accident that I was drawn into that work and getting training in Montessori and eventually becoming Head Start Director. That was drawing me to the spirit of the inner child, because the children were still in their child state. And, so that made a lot of sense to me years later – why I was so drawn to that.
TG: So can we go back a little bit and talk about your artistic career and you know specifically, you know, I’ve always found it really fascinating that you got to work with Charles and Ray Eames.
LC: Right, right? Well, let’s go back to the beginnings of my Art Career happened when I was ill. I had pneumonia when I was nine years old and I had a very severe case of it and I also had side effects to the Penicillin they gave me so I was in bed for a very long time in the winter of that year. And one of my girlfriend’s mothers gave me um of how to draw book and a sketchbook and I sat in that sick bed. Andrew, Andrew, Andrew and that really helped me to heal from the pneumonia because I wouldn’t have said it then because I didn’t know the word, but I was really suffering from depression. Also, from the medications and from being ill so long and it was a very difficult time physically, but also emotionally for me at age 9 and that drawing really brought me back to life. Just that process of being able to create something on my own.
TG: Wow, so then so from drawing then where did you go? Later.
LC: Later On I took yeah later on I took art lessons at Otis Art Institute for they had a class for kids and I took an art class there and then when that class was closed I was allowed to come into an adult class and we were painting portraits and I did that for. The whole time I was in high school and I did not enjoy high school at all. So, Saturday art class saved me. That was the other sort of therapeutic use of art in my life as well as you know, drawing. When I was sick and it’s interesting that I’m sharing this with you because becoming an art therapist many years later is really no accident. When I look back and see. The roots of my deep connection with art was really having to do with healing. Healing myself from a physical illness and healing myself during my teens when I was. Pretty unhappy we moved three times well or actually we moved once, but I moved high. Schools three times. And my teams. And that was really a hard transition. And those art classes were this sort of anchor. You know they were the solid continuity that. Kind of got me through high school because every Saturday I went to art school so no matter what else was going on, I could count on that and that was very therapeutic for me.
TG: Well, that happens with us. You know our healing turns into the way that we heal others so often you know which has been the case for me too. So, so then, what Lucia? What about college and all that?
LC: Well, it’s interesting, um, my father encouraged me to become a writer. Because he could have gotten me into the Screenwriters Guild, which was very difficult to get into, and, um, I had talent in writing, and my teachers were all saying, oh, you should think about being a writer, but I was taking those art classes and I realized that that’s where my heart was. So, when it came time to decide about a. Degree in college. I decided to major in art and at that time. It just so happened that the woman who would become my mentor, Sister Mary Corita was her name at the time, and um, she was appearing in national magazines on the cover of magazines and in feature stories. And that was just coincidental. With the senior year decision making process for me about where to go to college. An I happen to be going to that high school where she was teaching at the college and um, even though I had been researching other colleges for art programs, when I saw those articles, I realized I would be a fool not to take advantage of this opportunity. So, I decided to go to Immaculate Heart College and study with sister Carita
TG: Which is where Lucia.
LC: Well, the college is no longer there. There is a high school still there that I went to, but it’s in Hollywood and it kind of boasted some famous graduates, one of them being Mary Tyler Moore in high school and Mary was in my graduating class in high school. And, um, a lot of movie stars kids went there and um, but yeah, it was a really wonderful school because that order of nuns was extremely progressive. They later became very active in the inner-city community. They were politically very involved, and, um, they were very bright. Women and very progressive. And so, it was a wonderful environment. You know, in terms of Education and social consciousness and it was just a great experience. I’m very grateful I went there, wow.
TG: So then from there what happened next?
LC: Well, it was in my freshman class with sister Corita that I saw some Eames films and I had never heard of him. Didn’t know who he was, I had seen his furniture around because he was just beginning to be quite famous in the 50s. Um, but I didn’t know who he was, and I found the film and having been raised in the movie industry, the film, the all of the Eames films really caught my attention. And I remember going up to sister create at the end of class and saying, you know, who made those films? And she said, well? Very famous furniture designers. You should see that chair over there and she pointed to one of those wire shelters that had just recently been released and is sort of an iconic piece of furniture now. And so, she said, you know there are friends of ours and. That’s their film and she told me a little bit about them, and I said to her I want to work for them someday and she looked at man. I said what? What do I have to do? And she said, well, stay here for four years and work hard. Do all the assignments and then we’ll talk about it and, uh, I did exactly what she said an after my junior year I got a job first as a babysitter for his grandchildren who were visiting and then I got a job. At the Eames office strings, any number of tasks that needed to be done, graphic design and painting murals, and just doing all kinds of things. And it was an absolutely fantastic job. I just loved it right and I was there for a couple of years and um, worked on. The seven screen film presentation that went to Moscow during the cultural exchange in 1959 worked on a science exhibit for IBM, and some films that the images were making scientific and training films for IBM and just lots of different kinds of projects. It was really exciting.
TG: Wow so then. Where does the Montessori part of your professional life come in?
LC: Well, the monastery, an educator piece comes in. While I was working at Dean’s office, I got a phone call from a teacher. Actually, she’s a principle at a school in the inner city. She was in Immaculate Heart sister and she needed. A replacement, she needed a full time for a free teacher and she called me on New Year’s morning and asked me if I would like the job teaching there and I thought there was some mistake because I explained to her that I had never taught and I had no training in Education and I certainly had no experience. And she said it doesn’t matter. You’ve come highly recommended. Well, and it turned out that one of the women who had been in that community of nuns had been a friend of mine, and I had told her I was interested in maybe volunteering at one of the schools. On a Saturday because I had recently gotten married and would like to have some experience with children. I was an only child so that information is sort of like the telephone game. It got misinterpreted over to this principle, who now needed a fourth-grade teacher, and, um, I said yes, I mean. I I know that some higher power was working through me because it was not a rational decision on my part and it really wasn’t on the principles part. Considering that I had no training or education. But I transitioned into that job over a period of a week or two. And it turned out that the projects at the Eames office were all kind of coming to a halt, and so things were not real busy there. So, the timing was pretty good. And, um, I taught for one semester from the Christmas break to the summer when the semester ended and. I had an incredibly amazing experience working with these kids, 4th graders inner city, mostly Hispanics. Some African American children and a few Caucasian Kids an. It was an amazing experience. I ended up teaching almost everything. Through art and they really took to it. It worked for Maine and all of their grades went up by the end of the year. So I knew I was doing something right and the kids in the class won all four prizes in all city arts competitions and they were competing with LA Unified and they were competing with some schools that were very affluent where they had special teachers and art studios and all that kind of stuff and for. My little kids in the inner city, those that was a great deal then you know they got prizes and it was wonderful and so I ended that. You’re pregnant and very satisfied with my experience, teaching and then of course when I had kids. I was very concerned about their education and I started reading Montessori right away. Somebody gave me a book, or a Montessori and I started reading that and eventually took the Montessori training when my two daughters were in. They were already in Montessori schools. And, um. So, I was able to. You know, kind of experiment with monasteries principles in my own home with my own children and then go into work as a monastery teacher and that was the summer of 65 when Head Start began, and I was hired. It was very similar to that first teaching since. I was hired with no administrative educational experience to run the Head Start program for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, wow, and that was again the good older girls’ network. The Immaculate Heart sister was recommending Maine and, um, I got the job. I was protesting all the time saying I wasn’t qualified but. They thought otherwise, and I did the job, and everything worked out fine. Nobody was harmed and yeah, and the program was very highly evaluated, so I feel very fortunate about that experience.
TG: I bet. So, has that been a pattern of your life, to kind of find yourself in these situations where you feel unprepared? Has that happened many times?
LC: It has happened. Yes, it has happened quite a few times. I got a job at Mattel handed to me years later someone heard me speaking at a Montessori Conference and from Mattel and they hired me to develop a whole. Product line there and, um, you know, I really didn’t think I was qualified even though I have the design background. The early education background, um, and there were some bumps in the road because I didn’t like the way they were. Field testing toys in a hermetically sealed room in their offices at the corporate headquarters. I thought that was totally unrealistic, so I had to. Tussle with him about how I was going to field test the toys. I was designing and I finally got. Permission from them to feel test in nursery schools and in private homes with real children. In real situations you know and not being ushered into a room and given a toy to play with, which is totally unreal, right? Right? So? But I think another pattern that has come out of all of this. And this certainly was true with the Head Start Experience because I was running a program with 300 children and twelve sets of Staffs and 12 centers. It was a big job, but one thing I learned was to really stick to my guns, listen to my heart and really stand up for what I know to be true. And I had to do that in Head Start because our budget was ridiculously low for classroom equipment and furniture. I think was $90.00 and I just laughed at it and I gave my resignation because I said, You know, you’ve hired me to do a job and I can’t do it with this budget from the federal government. And so, the archdiocese backed me up and we went downtown and. Talk to the government officials about doing across line transfer and putting the money into the classroom instead of all of the administrative salaries that they had earmarked. So that was a big lesson for me. Is, like, you know, stand up for what you. I’ve always. Been rewarded when I’ve done that.
TG: Yeah. Wow. So then OK, so now where does the interest in psychology come from?
LC: Well, I think that was really there all along with the Montessori experience in setting child development and early education and studying her idea. That people have an innate knowing about what they need to know and learn, and her whole method is based on that principle. And there is a lot of good psychology in that, and so I would say that my first experiences of the psychology of Health. In children had to do with Montessori, but my real inner crisis with that, and what led me into the field of art therapy was my own illness. Again, a physical illness in 1973 when I was 35, and by this time I was divorced and raising. My two children. They were seven and eight when I divorce and, um, a couple of years after the divorce, I came down with very mysterious condition and I was really not functional. That’s quite ill, and the doctors were misdiagnosing what I had. I found out years later what it was. But, at the time, they didn’t really know, and I was taking medication and having side effects and it was just a downward spiral. It was a terrible experience and one day they got my lab test mixed up with someone else is and called me and said Don’t take that medication. You know it was should have been given to somebody else and. Um, I got so disgusted that I stopped taking the medication because I was already taking at night is already having side effects so. I just got disgusted an I threw all my Medicine out and went back to bed and just did some serious soul searching things like what is working and what isn’t here an one thing I knew was that this Journal that I had just started keeping at the beginning of that summer really made me feel better. Whenever I drew and wrote in my personal Journal, um, just, you know, dumped my feelings out drew my dreams out that I was having at night and all that I felt better. And so, I decided to just continue doing that and I shared that Journal with a friend who told me about her therapist. She said he could really love working with her and I said great, so that’s what I did and worked with her for three months and that was fabulous. She was doing a combination of Gestalt therapy and transactional analysis and some energetic work value work, and it was very successful. Three months of that, plus my journaling. And I had turned my illness around. I was able to function again, and um. Then I started sharing my Journal with some other friends and one of them said you know you’re doing art therapy. Sure, you really should consider becoming an art therapist. You’d be perfect. You have your background in art. You have all this background in child development. You really should think about it. So, I did look into art therapy and I found an art therapist. And worked with her as a client because I wanted to see what it was like from the client’s perspective. First before making any kind of a career decision and the results were phenomenal. I had already gotten my physical health back, but now I was getting a deeper experience into my destiny and. Where my life was leading me, and it was very clear a shortly into the art therapy with her that I really should consider this as a career option. And so, I did I got into a master’s degree program through Goddard College, which at that time had an external degree program there, in Plainfield, Vermont and I was in California and because of being a single parent and supporting myself, I really couldn’t go to Vermont, but they did have an external degree program, so I signed up for that an I got my Masters in art therapy and um also then went on to become a registered art therapist with the American Art Therapy Association.
TG: So, Lucia, if you don’t mind, you mentioned transactional analysis. Can you just explain what that is?
LC: Well, what I understood from TA was that we have these various states of being inside of ourselves that are always there, and one of them was the inner child and that’s our spontaneous, playful, and very emotional self. So, it involves a lot of different feelings, and it also involves a way of looking at the world. So, when I was in my inner child state, in those sessions and she would combine that with Gestalts Therapy, I moved around the room and be in my inner child state. I realized how creative I was, and also how emotional. So, that gave me a taste of a part of myself that, in growing up, I had kind of left behind to a certain degree. I had brought my creative child with me into adulthood. But, I had not really honored my emotional child, and that was the part of me that was the one that would come in to make me ill and stop me from going on in business as usual. And, I realized that-
TG: Pay attention to me. Was the message that you were getting?
LC: Yeah. The message was that the inner child had been ignored, and she had kind of gone on strike, because I was pushing in and stressing myself out and working really hard and being a grown up and carrying responsibility. But then, I had not been listening to her, and I had started listening to her in my journal. But, when I got into therapy, and the therapists showed me this part of myself, so she let it come out and have a voice, I realized very clearly that I had been stuffing that part of myself down – the vulnerable child, the angry child, and those are all emotional states that are very typical of early childhood. And so, that was a real awakening for me. I also, in transactional analysis, learned that I have this critical parent inside, that was really merciless. It was. Perfectionist. It was a pusher was pushing me all the time-
LC: and I was never going to please it. It was always going to be dissatisfied, and there was no pleasing it, and I realized that that had been pushing me to the point of illness, you know? So, the combination of this pusher. Yeah, and the child finally saying “I can’t do this anymore. I’m going on strike. Put me into that sick bed.” And, that all became clear when I got into transactional analysis.
TG: So then, between the art therapy and your journaling, and your work, and transactional analysis, and to begin to identify these ego states, then it seems pretty logical that that would soon unfold into Recovery of your inner child.
LC: Right. Exactly.
TG: So then, how did that relate to you writing the book?
LC: Well, I wrote my first book because my students were demanding it. I was teaching a creative journal class for six weeks at the local YWCA, and that was right after I started my private practice, in early 1976. And, the first class I taught was a six-week journaling class. And, the students were very excited about the class, and they were very excited about the comments that I made, and the journal prompts that I was giving them. And, I would give them these little one-page sheets with three or four prompts on them and they said “You know? You really should write a book about this. And, put these prompts into a book.” And, I continued teaching an advanced class and so on and so forth. So, I was adding more prompts, more prompts, more prompts, and they were saying, “yeah, you definitely are writing a book here.” And, I said “a book of journal prompts would be quite boring. What’s exciting, to me, about the class is your journal work that you’re sharing in here, so I would be willing to write a book if you would contribute some examples from your journals.” They all agreed. And, so that was how The Creative Journal, my first book was born, which is a series of journal prompts, some introductory text of mine, and then, of course, all their work. That got me really started. The inner child work that was contained in that book really sparked people’s interest. And, I started getting a lot of private clients who wanted to know more about this inner child stuff, with the art. So, I started doing a lot of art therapy with people’s inner child and I would have them scribble and doodle. And, of course, while I was in therapy, I had discovered my non-dominant hand and what could come out of that by writing or drawing with a non-dominant hand. So, I started doing that with my clients and the results were phenomenal. It was way beyond anything I’d expected. The therapy moved very quickly. Some really major issues got resolved, and they were referring me to other clients and it just spread from there. So, that was how it all started, and then I wrote my second book, The Power of Your Other Hand, which, incidentally, is just being released again, in it’s third edition. And, I had a whole chapter of that book called recovery of the inner child, and when I went out to do workshops based on that book, that was the chapter that was the most popular. People really wanted to know more about that. They got a lot out of it. They would write letters. So, I decided that that was going to be worth a whole book, and that was why I wrote Recovery of Your Inner Child, which came out in 1991.
TG: So, The Power of Your Other Hand. It was it in your private practice, and this art therapy that you were doing that with your clients, that you kind of discovered this.
LC: Yes. Well, actually, I discovered it in my own therapy, with my first therapist, as a technique for getting people to experience their inner child. She did one thing and one thing only, and that was have the client sit on the floor with a big pad of newsprint, and write down with their non-dominant hand, printing what they would do that week to apply what they learned in the session. And, that was the only way in which she used, just that one technique, and to do it maybe once or twice in the series of three months of sessions. That got me using the non-dominant hand in my journal. I just did that spontaneously. It wasn’t anything she assigned. But, because I was doing all this writing, one day I was doing a written piece in my journal and my critic started coming into my head. And, my left hand grabbed the pen out of my right hand and started sassing back to the critic. It was a little bratty kid, very assertive, and she just spoke up and said stop putting me down. It was amazing. It was a dialogue back and forth between both hands, and when I was finished with that dialogue, I realized that I had found the key to breaking through creative blocks, because I saw that blocks are caused by this inner critic stopping the creative inner child. And, it just dawned on me that that’s what I had discovered. It was amazing. It was like discovering a new continent. Well, so that has become a distinguishing characteristic of my work, this work with the non-dominant hand, and the dialogues between the hands in written form, and then also drawing with the non-dominant hand.
TG: Yeah, and I’ll tell you. Having been through your workshops, and then, later on, I became a member of ACA, Adult Children of Alcoholic and dysfunctional families, where, the term inner child is used a lot. And, the tool of journaling with your non-dominant hand is really, really encouraged. Especially in the last three to five years, I have gotten into the habit of recognizing when I need a cathartic experience. I’ve developed the discipline of setting aside time to write with my non-dominant hand and it is such an amazing experience.
LC: The other big discovery for me, beyond the inner child coming through, was that I started experiencing another voice, and it always wrote in cursive, in longhand. Not printing. And, it didn’t look like a child’s handwriting. It looked quite legible. It was very different, but it was still my non-dominant handwriting, and it was a voice of inner wisdom and comfort. It was like having a wise sage there with me, giving me guidance about any problem that I was having in my life, or any difficulty I was facing. That was a real surprise, because I did not expect that kind of voice to come out of the same hand that was speaking for the inner child. But, that’s what happened. And, that’s been a huge discovery.
TG: So, do you think it would be fair to say that, when the inner child is properly nurtured, and well taken care of, that that’s when that voice of wisdom begins to emanate from the inner child.
LC: Well, I don’t think it’s coming from the inner child. I think it’s coming from a different place. It’s a very wise voice. Sometimes it speaks almost in scriptural language. It sounds like a very universal voice, and this was an experience that I want to share with you that really told me how universal it was. I was leading a retreat at a Franciscan retreat center in California for 95 women, recovering alcoholics, and it was an inner child weekend. On the final day, Sunday afternoon, after they went to their 12 step meetings, we had our closing session. And, in that session, I asked them to do a dialogue with their higher power and ask their higher power for guidance in any area of their life where they felt confused or challenged. And, then to switch the pin to their nondominant hand, and this time, instead of asking for an inner child to speak, ask for their higher power to speak. And, they wrote for quite a long time. At the end of the session, I opened the floor, and had people come up to the microphone who wanted to share what they had written. And, I want to tell you, Tom, there was not a dry eye in that house. Everybody was crying when they were hearing each other’s sharing, and a few of them got up at the very end and said this all sounds like the same voice coming through. Their voices were interchangeable, and they all agree that Mary Jane’s higher power voice could just as well have been mine. And, it was speaking to stuff that I’m dealing with, and it was really amazing. So, then I realized for sure that we were tapping into a really deep and natural source of inner wisdom that we all carry inside. The other thing that really moved me about that weekend was that several of the women got up and said that this higher power experience taught them that their higher power was inside themselves. It was not outside, as an external thing – that they carried this higher power inside themselves, and they had it with them at all times. Well, and they had not been clear about that before. But, when they wrote it, they wrote this voice, with their own hand, they knew they had it inside. That was the real payoff for the whole weekend for me.
TG: Well, and for me, in this day and age, you see on social media, and really everywhere in popular culture, if you’re paying attention, a lot of talk about self-love. And, for me to really be able to grasp that, learning that lesson, about my creator being part of me, and me being a part of it, it just it opened doors for me to be able to love myself in a way that I never really could before. So, just that recognition, in and of itself, is such a healing thing. It really is.
LC: Exactly. And, when I wrote The Power of Your Other Hand, I decided to let my non-dominant hand have the last word. So, there is a dialogue in which my non-dominant hand does most of the writing, at the end of the book. And, that was really coming from my higher wisdom. It started, or answered by saying, just say that the deepest well of inner knowing, and of peace within everyone, it can be reached in stillness, in quiet, and in solitude. “I am here in everyone and everything and the glory of being human is that you can know and experience at one moment with me.” It was really mindblower when I read that back to myself. And, at the very end of the dialogue, which is the close of the book, there were some words that I have never forgotten, and that have kind of informed my life and my work since then. It said “the highest truth and wisdom reside within you. Everything else is illusion. You will see that you’ve had it backwards all these years. You thought your self was that little scared, confused character that doubts and worries and defends itself. That is the figment of imagination. That is the thing you made up with your mind. I am the real you. I am your true self. Reminding you to wake up. Come home to the bliss of your inner self.
TG: It’s beautiful.
LC: And, that’s really what I’ve been trying to do all these years with my books, workshops, trainings, is really to give people tools to wake up and come home to the bliss of their inner self, their true self. It’s been a deeply rewarding journey for me, to have this ministry. I really consider it ministry, to be able to share these tools with people, and of course, use them myself.
TG: Well, and you know, in our culture, we’re so focused on things. And, there’s oftentimes such an atmosphere of scarcity. There won’t be enough. That I know. And, one of the reasons I’m doing this podcast is because this is part of who I really am. When I was young, I was kind of discouraged from being who I really was. I mean that, you know, it might sound a little dramatic, but the things that I wanted to do, the people around me were afraid that I wouldn’t be able to provide for myself. And, they projected their fear onto me. I was at a place in my life where I didn’t have a strong ego. I didn’t have a lot of self-esteem. So, I was easily influenced by all of that. And then the suffering, much of the intense suffering that I’ve experienced in my life, I now see as originating from my deviation from my true self. You know?
LC: I Agree I. I think whenever we do that we suffer. Absolutely, I would agree with you, and you know, in my visioning work, I have really learned lessons from observing my students. I wrote the book Visioning in the early 90’s, about using magazine photo collage to create the image you want. That became very popular. Years later, there was the book The Secret. And, I didn’t invent that collage approach. It had been floating around in Unity Churches and Church of Religious Science for a long time. But, as an artist, I had used storyboards. I had worked on animated films, and that’s something that we do in filmmaking, and lots of arts, where you create a visual storyboard that goes way before any of the Unity Church treasure map workshops were going on in the 70’s. So, I was totally comfortable with this idea of visioning, through pictures, what you want to manifest. And, of course, architects do that. Designers do it. I mean, that’s what we did for a living as designers. But, what I added to it, because I knew there were blocks, I added the journaling piece. And, the journaling with the creative inner child, journaling with the critic, who stands in the way, and says “you can’t have this dream. That’s too crazy. It’s too impractical, and you can’t make a living doing that,” or that, you know, “that’s just beyond your scope. Who do you think you are?” And, that voice comes in and blocks people from listening to their heart’s desire. So, when I do these workshops, and certainly, I spell this out in the book. I tell people, right now, you know, you’re just going to go for your heart’s desire, and put that out as you go through these magazines and it is not about collecting stuff. It’s about what state do you want to experience? What experiences do you want to have? That’s what you’re illustrating. And then, we do the journaling, and we dialogue with the images. What are they saying? What part of it’s working with dreams? What part of you does that image represent? What kind of strength are you going to get from that, whether it’s a person, or a place, or a thing, or whatever it is. And, then working with the inner critic, and finding out what is your critic saying about all this? And, then you answer back, and tell it to shut up. You know, tell it you’re not going to put up with this, but you are going to follow your heart, and that’s it. And, the amazing thing that happens is that when people do the journaling in conjunction with their vision collage, they develop the skill to do exactly what we’re talking about, to really follow their heart in spite of internal and external criticism from others. Either way. And, the external criticism only works if we’re criticizing ourselves.
TG: So, I want to start there, with the inner critic. And, one of the things I have come to believe is that, for me, I believe that that inner critic, he kind of got all of his ideas from the outer critic. You know, that’s where it started. And then, even if the outer critics you know stopped their chirping, I don’t need them anymore. Because my inner critic has taken that all on. And, you mentioned, one of those messages that you have come to learn has been really big for me. A huge obstacle. And, that’s “who do you think you are?”
TG: Right? Which is a killer. I mean, how can anyone do anything great in this world if they’re asking themselves who do you think you are?
LC: Right. Right. Exactly. And, I really experienced that when I wrote my first book, because my critic was jumping in and creating a writer’s block. I was paralyzed for three weeks. I have that story in The Creative Journal book, at the back of the book. I tell the whole story, because I want people to know. You wouldn’t have this book in your hands. In fact, if I hadn’t learned to sass back to my critic, because my critic was coming in when I thought, after three weeks of no writing, just sitting at the desk staring into space, I took my journal out and I did this exercise. And, it only took two pages. So, I wrote down what the critics said, you know “you’re no author. You can’t write. Of course, it told me no. No publishers ever going to publish it. You’re wasting your time.” Right? That’s the other real killer line from the critic. “You’re wasting your time. You’ll never succeed.” So, when I put the pen in my other hand, my inner child just passed back and said, “you know, I’m doing it anyway.” And, basically, I was showing up at the desk and putting the time in. So, even though I hadn’t written anything, at least I had been true to my commitment. And, by the end of that dialogue, I went down to my desk and started writing. I finished that book in three months. I was only working a couple of days, two, three days a week. Because, I was a single parent, and working almost full time. And, you know, I didn’t have that much time. But, in two to three weeks a day, a week, two to three days a week, I finished that in three months. And, I found a publisher pretty quickly. So, see my critic was completely wrong. It was just something that I had to see through. I call it the emperor with no clothes. You know, that critic is always going to tell lies. We learned those lies from outside, and then we tape recorded them in our heads and we keep playing them back to ourselves. And, this tool really helps people to stop the tape. “Okay, what’s on it? Let’s look at it. Let’s examine it. And, then let’s answer back.”
TG: Well, and here’s another lesson that I’ve learned, that relates to this, because there is the inner critic, for me, which tells me, “you don’t have anything good to write. Nobody wants to hear what you have to say.” But, then there’s also the inner wisdom. That has slowed me down. Because, what I needed to write, I wasn’t ready to write yet – I needed to learn the lessons I needed to learn in order to really convey the message that is most me.
LC: That’s very important. I discovered that with my second book, The Power of Your Other Hand. I met a publisher in the early 80’s, who said, “what are you going to write next?” This is after The Creative Journal was out. And, I told him about this non-dominant hand stuff, and he said, “oh, that sounds great.” He asked if wanted to write a book about that and I said yes. I intend to, and he solicited proposal. He said, “I’d be interested.” I asked him, and I sent it in, and then he rejected it. I won’t go into all the details, but, you know, it was just crazy. I don’t know that he really read the proposal. But, I gave him two sample chapters and, like table contents, and anyway, he turned it down. So then, I continued working on it, and continued working on it. And, I got really blocked, and I had to have more dialogues with my inner critic, and I had to teach more classes, and experiment more with the techniques. And, long story short, the book was finally published several years later, but I realized when it was published that there was a lot of spiritual growth that I had gone through, and had to go through before I was able to complete that book, and there was no hot-housing that. You’re either ready or you’re not. And, I really wasn’t ready at that point, spiritually, to finish that book. And, I was very deeply grateful that fate had created it so that I did not write that book earlier, because it would have been a different book. It certainly wouldn’t have been as deep a book as it is. And, it wouldn’t have contained a lot of stuff that had to do with spiritual development, because I wouldn’t have been there yet.
TG: Yeah, and you know, for me, that has been a painful lesson, because I’ve had in my head for a long time, you know, that there’s a book. I gotta write a book. I gotta write a book. I gotta write a book. You know, this judgment and the inner critic, and shame because I haven’t done it yet. Then I carried this stuff around for so long, and grappled with it for a long time, until I came to that realization, that I’m going to write it when the time is right, and I don’t need to judge myself anymore. I need inspiration, and to allow the process to unfold, rather than try to force it. Because, forcing it never works.
LC: Right. And, if it’s coming from the critic and the pusher who were telling you should do this-
TG: Nobody will want to read it.
LC: No, it would be a horrible book. It would be totally boring, and you wouldn’t enjoy writing it. And, what’s the point? Yeah, exactly. It’s the creative child – the one that we really have to pay attention to when we’re going to really take on their creative project, the child has to be on board and if he or she is not, it’s not going to happen, because are the roots of our creativity, are in our inner child.
Lucia Capacchione is the best-selling author of 22 books, including: Recovery of Your Inner Child, The Creative Journal and The Power of Your Other Hand. A Registered Art Therapist and pioneer in Expressive Arts Therapies she conducts workshops and professional certification training in her innovative methods. Lucia’s methods are being used worldwide in education, therapy and life coaching. Her texts and workbooks are used in courses on art therapy, psychology, creative writing, and art. Her techniques are used in cancer support groups, schools (K-12), memory care centers, and programs for veterans. Her books have been translated into 20 languages.