Feb 28, 2010

The Creative Corner© by Sharon Teal-Coray

Your Self-Esteem as an Artist. Be your own "Cheerleader"!

As artists we are naturally more sensitive than the majority, this seems to go hand in hand with being creative. Being this way we need to be aware of the things that we do to ourselves which can wound our self-esteem.
Often we will hurt ourselves by focusing exclusively on one or two bad events overlooking all the positives. If you view your negative experiences with painting as successful experiments in trying, instead of failures you will feel better.
If you fail at something, avoid pinning a negative label on yourself. Don’t say, “I am a loser” “I am a failure”, “I can’t do anything right”, all this does is hurt your self- esteem and make you feel awful.
Remember that yourself is not the same as what you do, keep your identity and your creative activities separate. By doing this you will simply be having a “learning experience” rather than a blow to your self-esteem.
Look for your accomplishments, however small if you do you will feel more motivated to continue.
One of the most important things I would stress to my students was to remember not to equate your self-esteem or capacity for happiness with your success or failure. When a student is having trouble, they will often tell themselves that they are stupid, that they can never be an artist; all sorts of negative thoughts will run through their minds. A good teacher can try to help them but I found that many times I was arguing with a person who really believed they were total failures. It seemed that no amount of positive talk at that point was helpful.
What I did discover was that the low self-esteem of one student was “catching.” It has a great influence on the other students in the room. Therefore, it is important for a teacher to encourage positive talk in the classroom.
The first thing one can do to become a self-satisfied, successful artist is to change the negative thoughts to positive ones. It begins with our self-talk, the things we say to ourselves are the most important things we say. Usually we are harder on ourselves than anyone else would ever be! Some of the things we tell ourselves is just nasty and mean and we would never say this to someone else, so why are we so hard on ourselves?
Begin by giving yourself credit for the good things you have done, even for trying something new! Remember it is not as easy to do something new now, as it was when we were in grade school!
Never minimize your artwork. Don’t attribute your success to “dumb luck.” Research suggests that women are far more likely to explain their achievements in this way. Regardless of evidence that supports their talents or hard efforts, these women think that they have simply had a streak of good luck! The price for this self-defeating thinking includes anxiety, limited enjoyment and occasionally curtailed careers.
The best thing to do is to concentrate on things you do well. Try not to settle for less than you should. Many women believe deep down that they don’t deserve the good things in life; some even hold themselves back and make excuses for missing out on advancement opportunities. These thoughts are part of the syndrome called “Fear of Success.” Don’t let fear hold you back, take some chances, enjoy your painting time, let go of all the negative thoughts that run though your head.
Learn to appreciate yourself for the unique individual you are, accepting that you are a human and all humans make mistakes and experience failures. Look at your art and see that it is uniquely “yours,” be proud of it. Be proud that you took the time to learn how to paint and to experience the wonderful world of creativity!

If you are willing to love and accept yourself at your moment of defeat, you will have passed the ultimate test of self-esteem.

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