Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
— Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne)
As I discussed yesterday, as we go about discovering our artist selves, one of the big problems is “either/or” thinking. Julia writes, “Stripped to their essence, our multiple negative beliefs reveal a central belief: we must trade one good, beloved dream for another. In other words, if being an artist seems too good to be true to you, you will devise a price tag for it that strikes you as unpayable. Hence, you remain blocked.”
So, when you look at your list of twenty reasons why you can never be a prolific, successful artist, what trade offs are actually hidden there? For instance, when we give up on ourselves because, say, our sister is a better artist than us, are we really saying that we are afraid to somehow damage the status quo with our sister?
When we tell ourselves that our art will never pay the bills, have we assigned a price tag of art = poverty? If we never get started because we don’t have the “right” or “finest” equipment, materials, or skills, what good beloved dream are we imagining will be disturbed by allowing ourselves to do it anyway?
Or here’s one that I see for myself and others here (in disguise, of course): I have to be perfect right from the start, or else I quit.
Really. And what, I ask myself, if I had copped that attitude when I was first learning to walk, or read?
As you navigate this journey into previously unknown territory, some of these challenges will come up again and again. That is okay, it’s normal, don’t let it throw you. Some of your inner critic voices will probably never be completely silenced. But as it becomes more clear to you that these fears are actually quite irrational, you will see through them quicker, wasting less time on them, and spending more time getting on with your creative expressions.
There is another sometimes painful, but powerful clue to our deep identity as artists. It shows up in our reactions to others who are creating. “As blocked creatives,” Julia observes, “we often sit on the sidelines critiquing those in the game. ‘He’s not so talented,’ we may say of a currently hot artist. And we may be right about that.
“All too often, it is audacity and not talent that moves an artist to centerstage.
“As blocked creatives, we tend to regard these bogus spotlight grabbers with animosity. We may be able to defer to true genius, but if it’s merely a genius for self-promotion we’re witnessing, our resentment runs high.
“This is not just jealousy. It is a stalling technique that reinforces our staying stuck. We make speeches to ourselves and other willing victims: ‘Ibetter, if only…’ could do that
“You could do it better if only you would let yourself do it!”
Just a little something to think about over the weekend. Please continue with morning pages (how’s that going, by the way?) And have you had an artist date yet? Tell us about it!
Next week, we’ll start cooking up some delicious potions and antidotes for our inner fears. And we’ll begin writing permission slips that it’s okay to let ourselves do what our souls long for.