It's human nature to drift into superstition about how our work is going to be received. We can't help our minds from churning out hostile thoughts towards ourselves. But we can certain learn to make a strong case against them inside our heads. Ellis, the founder of rational emotive behavioral therapy, once said that our unhealthy negative feelings are almost always accompanied by some irrational belief.
REALITY WATERFALL — A chain of logic that reduces the probability of something negative happening to such a degree that it seems ridiculous
They key is learning how to notice, name and reframe it. One technique that helps your inner artist manage its irrational fears is called the reality waterfall. It's when a chain of logic reduces the probability of something negative happening to such a degree that it seems ridiculous to you. This line of thinking brings you peace in the face of artistic fears. You just have to find the underlying irrationality of your thinking. That realistic logic that can you substitute for your misguided assumptions?
When my product development and innovation party card game launched. The content for that project was purposely offensive, inappropriate and morbid. Which didn't seem like a big deal when it was just an idea inside my own head. But once the card game shipped and was made publicly available, the irrational fears came crashing in. Oh shit, people will actually read these cards, make a moral judgment about my character, leave scathing reviews about how sick my mind is, and I'll be shamed, broke and alone forever. That's where my mind went. Thankfully, the reality waterfall was there to wash away my irrational fears. Here's how it went. Scott, just remember this. Most people will never, ever hear about this product. The few who do, won’t buy it. The few who buy it, won't read every word. The few who read it, probably won't notice its flaws. The ones who do, won’t care. The ones who care, won’t say anything. And the people who do say something, are probably assholes anyway. So why scare yourself into a corner?
Try making a case against that belief. You'll quickly find that like a schoolyard bully, it doesn't have any native power. It's only our fear of it that keeps it alive. Let the waterfall wash those fears downstream. And now your inner artist can get back to work. What is your favorite way to scare yourself out of creating?
Overcome hostile thoughts towards yourself
Manage the inevitable fears of putting your work into the world
Execute projects you’re proud of regardless of public opinion
Take control over the voices inside your head and liberate your artist self to keep creating no matter what