Recently I just had one of those days. You know the kind. You wake up to a terrible email. An hour later you receive another. And then an hour after that, a bad phone call. It seemed never-ending. I consider myself very good at dealing with criticism. Tell me one of my pictures is bad, and will either agree, laugh, or ignore the situation. But to find out I’ve disappointed someone – that is my achilles heal.
If I had videotaped myself a year ago, or 6 months ago, or even a couple months ago dealing with this exact situation…it would have been uncomfortable. Disappointment is just not something I can stomach. But this time was different. I was different.
I had my initial gut reaction. I let myself have it. I didn’t break down, but I let myself feel the hurt. Quickly though, I moved past it, and I did so with three steps. Simple, but life-changing for me.
The first thing that I did was to immediately begin reciting positive mantras to myself, out loud. I just started spewing off anything I could think of that would lift my spirits and allow me to remember my worth.
The second thing that I did was to remember the big picture. What was happening hurt in that moment, but it would not define who I am or what my career is. It would simply be, and then it would be forgotten over time.
The third thing that I did, and most importantly for me, is that I reacted quickly. We have the opportunity, during any given situation, to decide how we feel about it. I decided, right there and then, exactly how I was going to handle the situation (by writing out solutions and taking action immediately). This helped tremendously in making me feel like I had control over something that seemed out of my hands.
We are all creatives, and a lot of us pursue creativity either as a passionate hobby or as our professions. As such, we know what it is like to put ourselves out there and receive criticism. Many of us suffer from anxiety given the right situation. How do you overcome it?
David Galyon - There is a triangle of self obsession that I recall from time to time when the knee jerk reaction is far too negative. Comprised of fear, anger and resentment the triangle can be very powerful. Anger the child of fear and fear created by the idea that I am not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, fast enough to measure up to the media based world I live in. Resentment is just a fantasy in reverse. My antidote for this triangle is very simple. Love, Faith and Hope. It is really that simple. If you look at my FB page you will see a composite I created yesterday, “Connected” after my hike in my favorite place. The knowledge that everything is connected in this life brings a comfort to me.
TIFFANY Y - Wow, I really love what you had to say David! <3 Not just about everything being connected but also "Resentment is just a fantasy in reverse" So true! If you are going to fantasize anyway, might as well do it in a more fun fairytale-esque way ^_^ I will remember what you said when I start to doubt myself for no real reason.
Beryl Faubert - Anxiety is my middle name, I do what you do and recite positive mantra’s to myself, and then music! I listen to music it helps me sing or dance it out. Or I pick up my camera, or I create art! Once I know I am back in control I react. I too have a hard time with disappointment it kills me in my soul, but I try to remember I can not control other people’s emotions or reactions to what I do. But I can control my own reaction. I also remember that there are millions of people out there and I am not going to make them all happy, and so is life. Brooke your awesome and I do look to you for strength and inner peace! You do promote passion and I have flourished from you and know that life is so full of these moments, like you said ‘it hurt in the moment’ but now you have risen ahead, take that moment and grow from it. Thank you for being you.
Jeff Madison/MADesignz - The big picture. so important. Its hard to see sometimes when being put down. Your work is our therapy as well. Thank you Brooke for being real! You are not alone!
robin spalding - i talk a lot so talking about my fears,anxiety to my husband and dad and family/friends helps me as they give me other viewpoints i may not see in my irrationality or emotions. i also listen to music that fits my mood. nine inch nails is sad,dark, or loud and angry but it lets me feel out the initial feelings until they are at a more managable level.
but it is a constant struggle and one i try to work on everyday i take soo much personal it is very hard but make it through. (your unbelievably wise inspiring posts help me gain “tools” to help me work thiggs out also)
Lovelyn - I’m sorry you had a difficult day. We all have those from time to time.
I’ve dealt with fear and anxiety much of my life and I’ve always found that the best thing for me to do is confront it head on. If I avoid fear and avoid the situations that make me anxious , my anxiety only gets worse. Leaning into that uncomfortable feeling and getting to the root of it is difficult at first but in the long run it makes life a lot easier.
As far as criticism goes … it’s difficult because as people we want to be accepted. We want the approval of others. It is one of our basic needs. So when someone criticizes us it can really hurt. I find it helpful to look at what the other person is saying objectively. I try to see it from their point of view and figure out it I think any of their points are valid. If they are I take them into consideration and look at how I might learn from their criticism. If I feel that their points aren’t valid I chalk it up to them having a bad day or a simple difference in opinion.
Though it can be difficult it is important not to take anything someone tells you too seriously. The way others perceive you and what you are doing has more to do with them then it actually has to do with you. Realizing that has helped me be more secure in my opinions and have a much better sense of self.
robin spalding - god i love this image soo much i can’t even explain how much i do.
Poetic Dinosaur - I love the naked honest of this blog, especially as it comes from a superstar of fine arts. It helps us to better connect to a human side to which most of us can relate. I believe your responses are spot on: recite truths to confound creeping negative thoughts, look at the big picture and act decidedly. I personally like to read the Pslams and remember that criticism is a function of expansions and risk. If there is no criticism, there probably was no risk. Any visionary, anyone willing to pursue new artistic frontiers, anyone who sinks at the thought of the status quo will surely suffer criticism and perhaps even dejection. This is the big picture.
Diane Mastromatteo - Meds! Haha, just kidding. First, take some deep breaths, and allow myself to absorb the shock, feel it, accept it, then take swift and positive steps towards reconciling the situation. Failure is not an option for some of us who have others relying on us.
John - A very important topic, Brooke. I recently had one of those days too. It was not confined to a single day; I am still dealing with it. A paper that I wrote had been conditionally accepted at a journal that is well respected in my field. It was going to be the final paper in my tenure portfolio. After doing my best to satisfy the conditions for publication, the editors informed me in an email that the conditions had not been met and that they would not be able to publish my paper after all. To subsequently reject a paper that has been conditionally accepted is almost unheard of in my profession. Their specific comments and the potential repercussions of this decision for my career and my life more generally blew me away, quite literally. I know what I need to do in response to the situation–more revisions for the paper, submit it to another journal, and to continue with my other research–but it is a struggle to remain positive, to not sink into bitterness and anger.
Thank you for your suggestions on how to deal with criticism and disappointment. Inspirational, as always.
jen shu - one of my absolute fav images of your so far this year. I think because when I look at this? I am undoubtedly feeling like i will run from the scenario (avoid the light)…when the answer is right there in front of me.
I deal with the feelings as quickly as I can. Sometimes it takes longer…because I still have a habit of wanting to feel validated in those feelings and tell myself ‘just stay here a while!’ …after that said time is gone – I look at the deeper issue with fresh non-emotional eyes. (especially if this is business).
I have affirmations, words, notes and things written all over my wall and I do look at them. I also look at my name and the meaning of it to know that I’m created the way I am…and I have much to offer the world even if it doesn’t seem so in that moment.
I write back and re-read and edit several times so that I come off as more professional than emotional and learn how to navigate to the solution after that. I remember my clients are entitled to share their vision back and realize that we all can’t be vulcans and “mind-meld” with each other to read minds.
In regards to the light chasing me – I always forget I have help in spirit. And that light is the one that always guides me…but I keep trying to do it on my own. So…today is a new day…HERE WE GO!
Johana - I have not stop crying since discovering your blog today as I identify in some many ways with you. I suffer from undiagnosied what I believe is fibromyalgia and I am also very sensitive and prone to let anxiety take over. It’s been a very difficult journey for me for the last few years. Reading your blog, has inspired me to not give up finding answers, not give up taking control over my fears and my anxiety. My advise? Read your blog over and over again, you are getting there. Much love your way
Margherita Introna - Creating is my cure for dealing with fear, anxiety and criticism… I translate that into inspiration and the process of creating an image surrounding those emotions (whether I release it publically or not) is what gives me courage and hope.