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...feed your soul with art & creativity!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Thick Skin or Be Bruised Forever

One of the trickier aspects of life as an artist or writer is how to handle criticisms both big and little.  The good news is that throughout life we are given many opportunities to develop the emotional scar tissue or thick skin that helps to carry on beyond negative feedback.

What does it mean to have a thick skin? It means that you are not easily offended and that you are largely unaffected by the needs and feelngs of other people; insensitive.  Now, insensitivitiy does not mean being rude, mean or cold to others, it means that you are that duck on the water swimming calmly, and the water just rolls right off your back. 

Albrecht Durer's Rhinoceros 1515
There are a number of types of "digs" that can occur and can be hurtful.  

Critiques are necessary and can even be helpful.  But that doesn't mean that they cannot also hurt, especially since it may or may not be done in a kind or sweet way.  Critiques can be brutal if the intention behind them is not intended to truly be for your benefit.  And let's face it, even the best critique may hold a tidbit of truth, even when we don't necessarily want to hear it.

Out and out insults--those comments and attitudes that basically tell you that you or your work is not valued.  There are, in my opinion, no nice insult.

Words said out of anger or hurt--when we are emotionally involved with people, words can come out as a result of anger or hurt.  Most of the time, these words are not the truth but aimed where they can do the most damage and pain.

And maybe the worst of the worst is Indifference.  This is when someone really doesn't care about you or your work in any particular way. They aren't mean.  They aren't nice.  They just aren't interested.  

I'm sure that there are many other hits that we all can take.  The bigger question is how to overcome the pains and emotional bruises received.

The biggest and best advice I have to offer is to write down whatever it is that was done or said that caused you harm.  Then set a timer and take a few short minutes to pick that experience apart.  Was there some truth in it? Why was it said? Was there something that happened that might have caused the pain?  And is there anything that was said that you could embrace and use to improve or take into consideration?  Then...let it go.  Get what you can learn from it.  Then burn up, shred or just throw away the paper.  Move on in your mind and don't dwell, stew, or create resentment.

Sometimes we receive the emotional blows by not choosing wisely with whom we share our art, stories or plans.  Let's face it, not everyone has our best interests at heart.  Some people, for their own reasons, sometimes even wish to see others fail.  Develop your relationships and share your treasures only with those you find deserving.  If you know someone isn't trustworthy or may cause harm, don't share with them.

Rockin' Rhino, (c)  Maria Ryan

Develop a positive self-image and self-attitude.  Know for yourself the value of you and your work.  If you are not dependent upon others to validate what it is you are about, you are in a far stronger position.  This is one of the BEST ways to develop a thick skin.  There are many other benefits of this position as well as helping to minimize the "slings and arrows" of life.

Keep your mind, thoughts and heart on your artwork.  Learn what you can from criticism and let the rest go.