Monday, March 10, 2008

Discovering a Sense of Resiliency (Part 2 of 2)


We all have insecurities. We’ve all said, “I wish I was as good as that person is”. Instead, we should tell ourselves, “I wish I was better than I am.” Focus on what we need to do to get better in our artistic ability instead of what we wish we could do.

Author Julia Cameron states, “Grace is available to us always, at any stage of the creative journey. As beginners, we need the grace to begin. As apprentice artists, we need the grace to continue. As accomplished artists, we need the grace to again accomplish what it is we can.” At all levels of creative endeavor and life, God is present and partnering us with the grace we need.

“When we say that making art is an act of faith and that as we make art we pursue a spiritual path, we are not talking loosely. There is grace in our every artistic encounter. Miracles do happen. We do not plan them. We hope for them and then we are open to the creator’s mentoring hand in improving our suggestions. What looks difficult or impossible to us does not appear difficult or impossible to God. As we set our egos aside and allow that creative power to work through us, miracles are routinely accomplished.”

“We do not know how to ask ourselves for real growth. We do not know how to realistically dig in. We make our new art a mountain we cannot climb instead of trying our luck with a small incline and then a steeper one and then a slightly steeper one. Instead of being inspired by those creative climbers who hop crag to crag, we are discouraged.”

There is certainly no absolute standard of beauty. That precisely is what makes its pursuit so interesting. ~ John Kenneth Galbraith

“At the root of most insecurity is the conviction that we must somehow be better – or other – than what we are in order to be acceptable. We want to play better than so-and-so – or at least as well as so-and-so. Lost in all of this improvement and striving for perfection is the idea that there is a great deal to like about ourselves exactly the way we already are.”

There are many kinds of beauty as there are habitual ways of seeking happiness. ~ Charles Baudelaire

“So often we are focused on what we would like to change – and change for the better – that we fail to celebrate what is wonderfully enjoyable exactly the way it is. We are often far closer to our own ideal – and ideals – than we dare recognize. Self-esteem is an active choice, not a sudden given. We can choose to actively esteem our any positive traits. By counting our blessings we can come to see that we are blessed and that we need not compare ourselves anymore.”

Write down 50 positive things that you like and approve about yourself exactly the way you are.


“At the root, self-pity is a stalling device. It is a temper tantrum, a self-inflicted drama that has little to do, ever, with the facts. Self-pity isn’t very interested in facts. What it likes is ‘stories.’ Self-pity thrives on stories that go ‘Poor innocent me and terrible mean them…’ Self-pity likes to make us feel the world is an adversarial place and that the odds are stacked against us. Self-pity likes to point out the way we are never truly appreciated, valued, cherished. What self-pity really wants is a cheering section and a fan club. It wouldn’t hurt either. Self-pity is not interested in our getting over it. Self-pity is interested in our ‘getting over.’ Struck by a bout of self-pity, we want an appreciative audience for our suffering, not a bout of self-improvement.”

“Self-pity is not interested in our spiritual status. It turns a deaf ear to our peppy affirmations. For an artist, self-pity constitutes a chronic and formidable creative block. Self-pity has one job and one job only: It intends to stop us in our tracks. If self-pity can just keep us mired in what’s-the-use, we will not have to do anything to find out. I am pretty sure that self-pity was a party guest in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was the satanic little voice that whispered ‘You can wriggle out of this. They aren’t going to appreciate you anyway.’”

“’They aren’t going to appreciate you’ is often a trigger for self-pity. Please note that ‘they’ (by which we often mean critics or even that more vague creature, ‘the public’) has little or nothing to do with our own self-respect.”

“Self-pity focuses our attention on how we are perceived rather than on what we are perceiving. It takes us out of our creative power and tells us that we are powerless, we will never ‘make it.’ Even if we already have, self-pity isn’t interested in realistic self-assessment. It is interested in stalling us. For an artist, focusing on the odds ‘against making it’ is like sipping a poisonous drink. It weakens us. When we focus on the impossibility of the outer word and its megalithic proportions, how small and weak and helpless and thwarted we all are, well then, we feel ‘what’s the use,’ and the world doesn’t get much better than that, does it?”

“We get them – because if we don’t watch out, we are about to do something big. Self-pity is a scraggly red robin. It means that once we get over it, we are going to spring into action. In other words, used properly, a good dose of self-pity is a jump start for creative action. ‘What’s the use?’ converts quickly into ‘What’s next?’”

“The healthy part of us cannot stomach self-pity and so it will be goaded into action. The action may be something that starts with compassion: ‘Of course you are hurt. Your work was unfairly received. Cry a little.’”

“Although self-pity appears to be grounded in the lack of appreciation from others, it is actually grounded in our own discounting of ourself and our struggles. A little actual grief can very quickly take the claws out of self-pity’s hold on us. When we say ‘Of course you feel bad,’ then we are on the brink of something a little interesting. We begin to raise the question ‘If this makes me feel so bad, what can I change?’”

Belief consists in accepting the affirmations of the soul; unbelief, in denying them. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“’I am tired of being talked down to by the academic poets,’ we wail, and then we start exploring master’s programs. Someone points out publicly that we have a tendency toward something unforgivable in our painting – romantic blue washes, for example, and we think, I’ll show them romance! I’ll show them shimmering light! and we dig in, perfect our technique, and get even ‘more so’ of the quality of question. We persist and persist and our fatal artistic ‘flaw’ is often revealed to be our own strength.”

“We cannot make others appreciate us, but we can take the time, care, and attention to appreciate ourselves. ‘That was really nice of you,’ we can say. Or ‘How thoughtful!’ One of the Toughlove spiritual laws advises, ‘Other people’s opinions of me are none of my business.’ A more positive counterpart might be phrased ‘My own opinion of me is all that matters.’ Self-appreciation takes practice, and it is the only reliable antidote to self-pity.”


“Doubt is a signal of the creative process. It is a signal that you are doing something right – not that you are doing something wrong or crazy or stupid.”

Beauty is one of the rare things that do not lead to doubt of God. ~ Jean Anouilh

“When a doubt moves at an artist, the artist must learn how to step aside and let the charge pass by. An artist cannot afford to be deeply pierced by doubt and finish the tour.”

“’Feel the feelings but don’t act on them. This, too, shall pass,’ artists need other artists to tell them.”

“As the cool light of day reveals, doubt and self-appraisal are not the same thing. It takes practice, but an artist can learn the difference. Self-appraisal has a certain steadiness of character. Self-appraisal has an opinion, a thought for your consideration. It has an idea to hand you, not an indictment. It doesn’t whisper at midnight when you are alone and exhausted. Doubt is what does that.”

Doubt strikes you when you are alone, but doubt itself travels in packs. Along with doubt come its nasty friends: despair, self-loathing, feelings of foolishness and humiliation.”

“Doubt comes to the door in darkness, pretending to be alone and in need of your compassionate ear. But if you let him in, he’ll bring his friends, and doubt can be very persuasive getting in.”

“Doubt is a great seducer. ‘I just want you to think about this,’ it whispers. Out come the artist’s ears. Out comes the dagger. ‘Maybe you didn’t and don’t have enough talent after all….’ Feel the sharp piercing? It might be your creative lung collapsing around the blade.”

“No, as artists, we need lucid self-appraisal, not shadowy and sinister doubt. Self-appraisal is best practiced in broad daylight in the comfort of your own home and among very trusted friends.”

“Art is a spiritual practice. Doubt is normal. We need faith to survive it and we also need charity. When doubt attacks, we must be vigilantly self-loving.”

“When doubt darkens the heart, it is wise to think of this gloom not as ‘reality’ but as passing weather, like a badly overcast few days. During bouts of doubt, our judgments will not be accurate and should not be acted upon.”


Kuehn Family said...

WOW! Loved the post.

Love Much, Katherine

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