All artists and in fact, all people suffer rejection at some point.
Do you take it personally, or can you brush it off philosophically?
This is such an important matter that I felt I should share here, some hints
for coping with rejection in one’s artistic life.
However there is no reason why this can’t apply to one’s personal life.
It certainly has applied to mine, at certain moments.
When you can “tell” that someone doesn’t like something you’ve created,
it can feel like that person is rejecting your essence.
And the reason this can feel so awful is that it is triggering your sorrow about the countless losses,
shaming moments and various rejections you’ve experienced throughout your entire life.
It’s the rare person who reaches adulthood who accepts and loves themselves completely.
Feeling “not okay” or “not enough” or “unworthy” –on whatever level–is practically the universal human experience.
And because your artwork is a direct expression of who you are, the usual bevy of self-protection mechanisms that effectively shield you from having to experience these feelings aren’t in place.
It’s like being on a fast track to accessing your unhealed pain. Ugh.
What To Do
Well, first, have compassion.
Forgive yourself for judging yourself so harshly through the eyes of another.
(Actually saying to yourself, “I forgive myself for that thought” can be quite powerful–try it.)
The second is to simply “notice” to the best of your ability. This can be hard in the throes of hurt, but to whatever degree you can, ask yourself:
- “What am I feeling right now?” (Try to give it a word so it’s not a nameless, overwhelming blob.)
- Where in your body are you feeling it? Does it have a shape and color? (A shape is finite and finite is good–again, much easier to tackle than a nameless, overwhelming blob.)
- What old memories is it conjuring up? Who or what from your past is popping into your mind?
The third is to consider the idea that however true it might feel, it’s not. It’s a merciless story you’re telling yourself.
And even though it might be hard not to indulge that story, all efforts to interrupt it are powerful. Even thinking the thought, “Sarah said this is a merciless story and not the truth” is an interruption and an important first step.
The Big Pay-Off
What I actually love about this whole challenging experience for myself is that it elevates my artistic journey into a spiritual one.
Because creating is who I am, it’s the path through which I can explore the sacred and heal my wounds–and not just in the “making” part of my art, but through the entire experience–the showing and sharing, the applying and hoping, the acceptance and rejection, the selling and not selling, the praise and the silence.
It’s the place I do so much of my hard growing.
And an unexpected gift from this process is that it creates an increased...intimacy somehow between me and my art
work. It’s like they become private symbols of my healing process and growth (in addition to be artwork about this or that.)
How about you? Do you face these challenges too?
What do you do when you feel exposed and vulnerable? Something to ponder about!