Many years ago I gave a talk at the Main Line Art Center. Most of the audience were, of course, artists.
I started my conversation with this question: “How many of you believe that it is possible to make money doing your art?”
Three hands out of seventy were raised.
The question was a bit of a setup although I never expected the number of raised hands to be quite so low.
I then asked them, if that was really true, because if it was, then there wouldn’t be any evidence of artists who were financially successful.
I invited them to suspend their assumptions for a few moments and open themselves up to the possibility of other things that might be clouding their assessment.
We talked about the prevalence of the belief in “the starving artist”, the many comments made by well-meaning family members about finding something that paid the bills (not art) and the huge number of messages throughout childhood into adulthood that tell us artists can’t be good with money, can’t make money, etc. etc.
I’m using this as an example – I don’t mean that it isn’t hard being a successful artist. It is. And it’s hard sticking with anything that requires a belief in ourselves and our chosen path.
Morgan Harper Nichols, the artist, poet, songwriter said in an interview recently: “It’s so important that we are affirmed when we are young.” She credits her preacher father, who after seeing a painting she made after hearing one of his sermons, told her she was gifted and had to pay attention and use that gift.
And yet, so many of us deny our talent, think we will be judged harshly by expressing it and so we never take the chance. We never stop to realize that this is the very thing that sets our hearts free, gives us the confidence to be who we really are, gives us the ability to not only affirm ourselves but help others to do the same.
Scarcity creeps into our minds telling us all kinds of untrue messages that given reign, spiral downwards into negativity. If we allow it to remain long enough, we give up and in doing so, reject the opportunities that will come after to be more easily turned away.
It doesn’t matter who you are.- we all get into these spots. It matters that you can notice what is good, what is right, what is positive. It matters that you care for yourself in these moments treating yourself as you would a loved child who needed your attention. This is the beginning of encouraging yourself.
When scarcity strikes, as it will, you can be ready to challenge it so that it must fade into the background by remembering what you stand for, how far you have come, the gifts you share with yourself and the world, and the value you bring.
If you can’t find these things on demand, make a list to keep within reach on those days when you need reminders. When friends aren’t around or it’s 3 am and you can’t call anyone, you will find it useful to develop your own encouragement skills.
It’s one of the most important skills you can develop because only then can you challenge the lies that abound and attempt to take you off course.
Take a stand for yourself. Take a stand that you will no more put up with the mischief your mind can make. Take a stand for believing that you can be exactly who you were designed to be and live into that.