As creative people, we are foolish enough to put our whole heart on show. We make these beautiful things and share them with the world, only to be criticized and rejected a large portion of the time. For many artists, the resistance is a destroying force that smashes their will to the ground. The ego battering is grating on their hypersensitive system and opens the door to anxiety, discouragement, depression, isolation and addiction. Knowing this about ourselves, we have a duty to keep the oxygen of optimism continually in the process. Not to allow people's skepticism to become our leading narrative. Otherwise we’ll be so busy trying to preserve our sanity that we won’t have time to actually make anything.
MENTAL OXYGENATION — Giving creative confidence room breathe and grow by nurturing it with encouragement, freedom and affirmation
One practice that's helpful during the creation process is incanting mantras to give yourself perspective and peace. Each time a new piece of your work ships, here’s what the inner dialogue sounds like. If some people immediately start determining the levels of wrongness with my work, my presence still has value. If certain experiences I create for others squeeze nothing but a few drops of skepticism out of them, my role still matters. And if the creations that come out of my brain are greeted by crickets, yawns and shrugs, my value doesn’t nosedive. The resistance will not send me into an emotional tailspin. The work of making beautiful and valuable things is my gift, and regardless of how they are received, nobody can take away the fulfillment of that process from me.
In my first career as a freelancer, criticism and rejection weren’t a huge issue for me. Because the only person I had to answer to was myself. But now, having worked at agencies and startups, it’s been a bit more challenging. Because as a team member, it can be hard to create things that an organization's existing immune system doesn't reject. There’s a delicate balance between compatibility and innovation. To the point that it makes you not want to even begin. As a result, there have been many false starts, fizzles and failures along the way, for any number of reasons, some of which were my fault, some of which weren’t.
Mental oxygenation might be a delusion pill that works by altering your view of yourself, but hey, we all live the lie we love. Do what you have to do to make sure that resistance will not be the end of you. Are you emotionally mature enough to put criticism where it belongs, or will the resistance murder your will?
Keep sanity and perspective in the face of criticism
Soothe yourself through productive delusions
Recover from creative failure and rejection quickly and without harm
Reduce the likelihood of discouragement and depression when completing projects