Embrace embarrassment-Do what you love
Wherever you are is the entry point!
For a beginner artist, sometimes it is very difficult to send the artwork to the world. Sometimes fearing that the pieces are not good enough, or are too different from what is trending in the art business and world, can put a big block on the confidence and creative act.
We want our pieces to be liked at any cost and sometimes we forget that people are not obliged or better they are not going to like everything we do.
It is impossible to please Greeks and Trojans and I agree totally with these popular saying.
For me, was very common to feel fear of embarrassing myself when I had to do solo or group shows. I spent years of my life hiding my paintings and illustrations, procrastinating on practicing my art and abandoning my efforts because I believed that I was not good enough as an artist so it was a waste of time to create art or even try.
I would spend my days complaining and seeing other artists doing art shows or publishing their work with confidence and I would feel angry, comparing myself and believing that they were better and that there was something wrong with me.
I did not realize that doing nothing and complaining was worse than trying, making mistakes and feeling embarrassed.
I was constantly longing and dreaming on exposing my art, I was living in my brain and I was frustrated.
Unkind, non-compassionate and judging self-talk was my constant attitude, forgetting that words are the bricks and mortar of the dreams we want to realize and that words are the greatest power that we have, they establish the life we experience.
I was conditioning myself to believe that I will fail in art, forgetting to use the power of words constructively and learning from my mistakes from moment to moment.
The power of the word is real whether or not you are conscious of it.
How to get rid of the fear of embarrassment? Why do we fear embarrassment? These are important questions to be made; the answer could be, embarrassment is a “normal” emotion and will always exist and we are afraid of it because is connected with the fear of being rejected, with the mania and desire of always doing perfect job and the need of being liked.
As W. Somerset said, “Only a mediocre writer is always at his best” and this quote applies to any type of art, meaning that perfection does not exist and failure or doing something that is not likable is a normal part of life and makes us grow and learn.
It is about the process and not the result or product, practice makes progress rather than perfection. It is important to focus on our own craft even if it is difficult. Putting the effort and having courage, it is the way out. Making art is a journey and as Michelangelo well putted, “I am still learning”.
Another factor that creates major blocks and fear is the attachment to external approval; we suffer thinking what people are going to say about us, we blind our own powers by negative thoughts or fears that is why Its important questing for wholeness and a healthy autonomy from the expectations of others.
Critics will always exist; people will always politicize your or our process. Shame is a controlling device, it is important to be mindful and careful, we have to learn where and when to seek out criticism (the right one). As artists we must learn when criticism is appropriate and from whom. Not only the source but also the timing is important. We must learn to create our safe environments. Learn to be self-protective.
Criticism that damages is that which disparages, dismisses ridicules or condemns. It is frequently vicious, vague and difficult to refute. This is the criticism that damages.
Shamed by such criticism, an artist may become blocked to send work into the world. Often, we forget that we have the power to change limiting beliefs and consciously plant the seeds for the future we choose. As you change your mind, you change your experience Serge Kahili king said.
Antidote for Shame
What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.
I started to realize that a good antidote for shame is self-love, self-praise and compassion. Recognizing that being imperfect, failing and experience life difficulties are inevitable so being gentle with myself when confronted with shame, embarrassment or painful experiences is important instead of getting angry.
I started to do a compassion journal of the things I felt ashamed, why I felt this way and reassuring myself that it is okay to make mistakes and its part of the growth process and common humanity.
Making a sketchbook where I freely draw and paint, without boundaries or fear, enjoying my mistakes and growing from them with no censorship was and still is truly a healing and powerful experience.
Instead of judging myself and criticizing for the various inadequacies, mistakes I could kindly understand me, and who ever said I am supposed to be perfect?
Self-compassion is the key to understanding ourselves when we suffer, fail or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism.
Art is a fascinating, difficult, magical, arduous, rewarding and above all, personal experience.
It is important to put in our paintings, writing or illustrations everything we like without fear, or even if we have fear, the attitude we must cultivate is the “just do it”. Performing, performing and performing with courage, navigating the waves of embarrassment and shame, as Rumi said let the beauty we love be what we do.