Week 3: Recovering a Sense of Power
“Those of us who get bogged down by fear before actions are usually being sabotaged by an older enemy, shame.”-Julia Cameron
I hadn’t related this idea of shame as a deterrent of creativity to Chapter 1‘s shadow artist concept until this third delve into the Artist’s Way. Since I’ve always been a human who’s afraid of getting into trouble, or doing something wrong, or letting other people down, shame has impressive control on my behavior and goals.
Continuing to love and pursue art despite the best advice from basically everyone in my life does cause shame. It was such a constant, I hardly realized it existed, lurking in the back of my mind, always there reminding me…
“Of course this won’t work, everyone already told you it was a dumb idea.”
“Yea, cool Carly, so when this inevitably fails it totally won’t be embarrassing to your family.”
“There is a reason that every sensible human you know has told you ‘art is a hobby‘”
“Your grandma is right, you are a flake. Why didn’t you just go to college for something useful?”
“Yea, other people can make a living through art, but that doesn’t mean you can.”
“Have you met you!? You have no business understanding, you aren’t a genius at marketing, and you just don’t have that intrigue needed to get attention for your work.”
“Seriously, you should be embarrassed.”
You should be embarrassed…
That negative self talk just lives there. If my heart weren’t in my art, it would be so much easier to ignore that voice. But once I care so deeply, once this feels like the only talent I really have–then that voice reminding me I should be ashamed gets louder and louder (and apparently slightly sarcastic).
Over the years, I’ve grown accustomed to that voice. I have tools to mitigate its damage. I’ve developed skills to keep those hostile judgey thoughts at bay. Most of the time, I can embrace affirmations, stay positive, and appreciate simply the fact that I can make art in the world.
But, that voice of inner criticism that shames me in an attempt to keep me in line, never really leaves. I doubt it ever will. It waits for any lull of confidence, any rejection letter, any time my irrational anxiety gets in the way, simply any opportunity to remind me I’m stupid for putting my heart into my work–for deluding myself that I was ever worthwhile as an artist.
I don’t have much other choice. I can let that voice win and give up art (which I can’t fathom doing), or I just keep working. I continue to create art. I continue to by mindful and present each day, and make the conscious effort to ignore that asshole-voice-in-the-back-of-my-mind.