Who’s the Bully Now?

fear, confidence, bully, friends, encouragement

The Bully on the Playground

As creatives who want to make a difference with our lives, we’re often confronted by a bully on the playground. It’s the voice that tells you you’re not worth anything and you’ll never make it. And it always shows up at the wrong time.

Bullies are the tough guys with all the attitude and put downs. Their strategy is to make you feel inadequate and look stupid in front of your peers.  He knows if he can keep you intimidated, he’s safe to continue his heinous behavior without repercussion.  

Bullying is a real problem in today’s culture. Hurtful words, name calling, and public humiliation cause depression and hopelessness.  Hundreds of thousands of suicides in young people every year are a direct result, making suicide the second leading cause of death of individuals ages 15-24.

Overcoming bullying is difficult for two main reasons.

  1. The victim feels ashamed about being the target of other’s harassment and therefore doesn’t reach out for help or intervention.  
  2. The victim starts to believe the accusations on their character are true because the constant barrage of negativity begins to influence their own thoughts about themselves.  

The Creative Bully

So, what do you do when YOU are the bully on the playground of your MIND?

Creatives each have their own personal bully inside their head. It’s Fear.  

Fear is a bully. Fear has a big mouth. Fear wants you to feel inadequate and make you think you look stupid. Fear says you have nothing to offer and you’re better off fading into the background of life. Fear says someone else is more qualified.

Fear gains control of our lives for the same reason bullying dominates the minds of susceptible young people. Shame and constant negativity.

You can do it!

The good news is that, just like bullying, fear can be overcome.  Employing a few simple tactics can help you find the support you need to keep moving forward and equip you with enough confidence to stand tall.

    1. Surround yourself with supportive people.  You know at least 2-3 people who are going to support you no matter what.  When you start hearing the negative voices in your head, get on the phone with your support group. Your supporters will be happy to walk with you through the negativity and help you build your confidence.
    2. Learn from those who are succeeding.  Someone out there is successfully doing what you want to do. Find out where they started from, what adversities they had to overcome, and what steps they took to achieve success. You’ll find out that they are just regular people who battled the bully daily but didn’t give up.
    3. DON’T GIVE UP!  Too often people give up on their dream just before it’s about to become a reality.  They feel uncomfortable and out of their comfort zone.  They allow the negative voices to convince them that the discomfort is a result of not being good enough.  When in reality, it’s normal to feel squeezed when things are about to bust wide open. Growing pains are a normal result of progress. Instead of giving in to the uneasy feelings and backing away, consider restructuring your approach to keep yourself aligned with your goals.

 

We all face negativity.  We are always our own worst critic.  Thankfully, the voice of fear is all bark and no bite. You can overcome fear by fighting negative thoughts with positive actions. Gather faithfully supportive people around you, learn from those who are succeeding, and keep moving forward.

Do these things and fear doesn’t stand a chance!

Miranda Signature

 

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Don’t Drown. Stand Up.

stand, overwhelm, forward, life, dreams

stand, overwhelm, forward, life, dreams Some people have a fear of water.  Just getting near water gives them anxiety.  They can’t swim and they fear drowning.

That’s a healthy fear, if you can’t swim.  And you’re in deep water.

If you’re jumping over a puddle or crossing a creek or wading in a kiddie pool, the fear is unnecessary.  While it’s true that a person can drown in a small amount of water, it’s impossible to drown as long as your head remains above the water.  Water can only enter your lungs through your nose and mouth.

Life can be overwhelmingly heavy.  We get bogged down with schedules, responsibilities, expectations, chores, jobs, and side-hustles. Not to mention people, politics, money, relationships, and emotions. That’s a lot to lay on one person’s shoulders.  Yet every one of us have these loads to carry.

We have our individual ways of carrying our loads.  Some like to carry it in their arms so they can keep their hands on everything all at once.  They want to feel in control of everything but often feel out of control while they juggle it all at once.

Others will sling their loads on their backs so they can stay focused on moving forward.  The projects aren’t managed the best (Out of sight, out of mind.) but they get where they want to be.

And some are forever dropping their load or trying to get someone else to take responsibility for it.  They don’t want to be bothered with carrying it at all.  They feel it’s their right to be free of their responsibilities.

We all get to carry the same loads. It’s our responsibility as human beings.  Yes, it gets heavy sometimes and you have to take a break.  That’s fine. But don’t sit down.  Sitting down is called giving up. 

Most adults can stand in a 4-foot pool and be completely safe from the possibility of drowning.  But if you decide to sit down, that’s when the danger happens.  Suddenly, the amount of water that was safe is now overwhelming.

The difference between standing and sitting in life is a change of mind.  Just one decision.  But the effects of that decision have critical consequences.

While sitting down might seem restful, it puts you in danger.  Your head goes underwater and your ability to get to dry land disappears.  Your decision to fold your legs takes away your hope of survival.

Don’t give up on life.  Don’t give up on your dreams.  Don’t sit down no matter how overwhelmed you feel.  Don’t drown when you can make the one decision to stand up.  

If you feel like your drowning, check your position.  Are you taking life standing up or sitting down?  Stand up.  Put one leg in front of the other and keep moving forward.  You’re going to make it.

Are you struggling to stay standing?  How do you cope when your load gets heavy?  You can share your responses here. 


Would you like to get some more inspiration and encouraging words? Join my email list and receive a monthly message in your inbox. 

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Terrified? Good.

art, show, share, create, easy, fear, progress, emotion

art, show, share, create, easy, fear, progress, emotionYou keep waiting for it to get easier.  The writing.  The expression.  The honesty with yourself.  The accepting of who you really are.

You show up, day after day and do the hard things.  You feel with all your heart.  You work with all your might.  You do the next right thing.

Show up.  Create.  Share.  Repeat.

It should get easier, right?

The process eventually becomes routine.  But sharing is always scary.

Art is just one way of baring one’s soul.  It may be with words, music, or color.  But art is more than just sharing thoughts and ideas.  Art shares emotion.  Raw and unrefined emotion.

There’s no way to tame your art.  If you try, it becomes watered down and unappealing.  Like iced tea left in the sun too long.

Art that resonates with people has a shared emotion with the observer.  It portrays a deep emotion that can’t be explained without an experience.   Real, raw, emotional art strikes a chord of understanding, empathy, and insight.

There’s nothing easy about being real.  Real means vulnerable.

That’s scary.  Your human nature is to protect yourself from harm and painful experiences.  So you hide and try to blend in with the scenery.  But your spiritual nature is to be whole and understood.  And so, there is a constant war of revealing your soul and hiding your heart.

It takes both soul and heart to make art.

I don’t believe it ever gets easier.  It just becomes a necessity.  Like breathing.  The artist must create and connect.

Courage doesn’t mean you’re not afraid.  It means you do it afraid.

Be strong and courageous.  Don’t give up.

Show up. Create. Share. Repeat.

What are you doing every day to show up and do the next right thing?  Do you find it easier to share your art as you become better at it?  Share your comments here.

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Name Your Villain

art, shame, fear, negative, adversity, villain

art, shame, fear, negative, adversity, villainThe villain in a story is a cruelly malicious person who’s motives and actions are wicked.  He’s intent on bringing down the hero and victims to get what he wants.  Domination.

There is a villain in you.

As you try to make a place for yourself and your creative work, you hear a voice from inside, telling you all the reasons why you can’t.  Why you shouldn’t.  Why it’s a waste and no good.  It’ll never amount to much.  It’s fake.  Who are you kidding?

We call it fear.  But fear starts somewhere.  You were not born afraid.

We teach our toddlers not to touch a hot stove.  Don’t run in the road.  Don’t talk to strangers.  We have to teach our children fear.  There are real dangers out there that they don’t understand.

This voice of negativity is fear, but where did it come from?  Who taught you to fear your creativity?  

I suggest you start at your earliest memories and think about your influencers.  There was someone who told you it was no good.  Shamed you.  Or told you it wasn’t worth pursuing.

That person has a name.  Maybe they meant well.  Maybe they aren’t truly evil.  Maybe they wouldn’t even remember the incident.  That’s okay.  That’s the voice that keeps whispering in your ear when you’re working on your craft.

That voice of fear now has a name.  And it’s not you.

The fear that has kept you from following your creative passion has been trying to keep itself safe.  Because you learned that your art was not a safe place to live, fear whispers a warning every time you approach it.

What can you do about it?

Change your mind.  It takes time, but you can slowly introduce your fear to your creativity in measured and safe increments.  You have to re-train yourself to accept creativity as a natural and comfortable place to be.  Like the seashore or a cool forest.

Start a journal, sketch pad, paint by number.  Use your creativity is small and enjoyable ways regularly.  Tell your fear that you’re not jumping off a cliff or going to live on a deserted island.  You’re only taking a walk on the beach and smelling the flowers.

Completely safe.

It’s important that you keep your inner artist safe.  Don’t show your work to people you know will be critical.  Don’t take it on a roller coaster.  And don’t starve it.  Nurture it and encourage it.

Tell that voice of fear to hush.  Call it by name.  Realize that it’s not your voice.  It’s someone else’s.

You don’t have to listen to it anymore.

 

How old were you when you were taught to fear your creativity?  Comment here.

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Live Your Life Backwards – Words of Wisdom

live, backwards, too late, purpose, george elliot, fear,

live, backwards, too late, purpose, george elliot, fear, Author Robert Fulghum sits on his grave site every year.  Author Austin Kleon reads the obituaries regularly.  Morrie, from Tuesdays with Morrie, and Randy Pausch, from The Last Lecture, looked death in the face.  Nothing puts things in perspective like a brush with death.

The truth is, no one gets out alive.  We only have a limited amount of days to do stuff that matters.  And we aren’t told when the deadline is.  There’s no circled date on the calendar.

We’ve all heard stories of end-of-life regrets.  No one does everything they wanted to do.  Hindsight is 20/20.

But if that’s true, and everyone gets to the end of life with regrets, why don’t we start talking to that older version of ourselves?  The one laying on her death bed and thinking back on her life.  Wondering if she really made a difference.

Ask your dying self, What do I wish I had done?  What didn’t I do because I let fear stand in my way?  How could I have moved the needle if I had just tried?

I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time. – Jack London

Imagine the happiest, most fulfilled and humble version of your 90 year-old self.  What were the steps that she took to get to that place of fulfillment?

What was she doing at 80? At 70? In her 60’s.  What about her 50’s?  What was her focus in her 40’s?  Start living your life backwards by talking to those older versions of you.

You want to live a life that matters.  And not just a life that works for you, but a life that works for the people around you.  You want to make a difference.  Move the needle.  Do stuff that matters.

You’re a giving and loving human being, teeming with talent and desire and strength.

Don’t forget it.  Don’t hide it.  Don’t delay it so long that you forget to pick it back up again and get to the end of life with regrets.

Talk to your 90 year-old self. What is she telling you to go do?

GO DO IT!

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The ONLY Response to Criticism You Will Ever Need

Criticism, critic, response, creative, negative, confidence

Criticism, critic, response, creative, negative, confidenceIt’s scary to put yourself and your work out there.  You’re conflicted with emotion.  You want people to see your work.  You want to share it with someone who will appreciate it.  You hope it will make a difference for someone.  But the fear of criticism is always there.  It’s enough to keep some creatives from ever taking that first step.

We’ll skip the debate on whether it’s a legitimate fear.  The feelings are real.  Period.  I can say from my own experience and from what I’ve heard from other creatives, the response to their work is, overall, very positive.  Generally, people are very encouraging and quick to compliment.

That’s not to say that the critics don’t exist.

The more you share your work, the more exposure you get.  Your audience increases and inevitably someone will have something critical to say.  It goes with the territory.  And by territory, I mean people.  Statistically, there’s one in every bunch, right?  That’s a real stat. Trust me.

Someone somewhere at sometime will question your motives, your technique, your authenticity.  It hurts.  And, unless it was a private email, it’s often public.  They might have commented on your blog or your Facebook page.  Immediately you look like a fraud.  Your biggest fear come true.  You’ve been exposed.

This is NOT the time to throw in the towel, give up, and take your crayons home.  It’s also not the time to get all defensive and start slinging mud.  Instead, consider your options.

How To Respond to the Critics

1. You can delete the comment.  

You can.  I’m not sure I’d recommend it. But it’s definitely an option.  If the comment is downright mean, full of vulgarity or obscene language, by all means, make it go away.  You don’t need that kind of trash in your life.  And it’s cluttering up your space and public image.

2. You can respond. 

I’m going to make this very easy for you.  This is what you say…

“You might be right.  I’ll consider that.”

When you say, “you might be right,” you tear down the defenses and make yourself open to the critic.  Which is precisely the opposite of what they’re expecting.  By accepting the possible merits of what they’ve said, you effectively take the wind out of their sails.

  • If the comment is made in private, aka email, you don’t have to respond right away.  However, you don’t necessarily want it hanging around in your inbox either.  Send off your canned response.  Thank them for taking the time to write.  Then delete the email.
  • Snail mail doesn’t warrant a response.  But you can if you’d like.  They won’t expect it so it’ll surprise them and awe them that you actually read their message and responded.  But again, don’t keep negative letters.
  • If the comment is public, offer this response.  It shows the rest of your audience that you’re not afraid of criticism and you’re willing to consider someone else’s opinion.  It also portrays confidence in that you’re not obligated to accept what they’ve said as truth.

Here’s what you don’t do.

BLAME THE CRITIC FOR THEIR OPINION.

Blame is a wall we use to protect ourselves.  It’s often our first line of defense.  It takes the pressure off yourself and puts it on someone else.

Bad move.

Blame starts a war of who’s right and who’s wrong rather than just accepting an opinion for what it is.  We’re all entitled to be wrong.  Did I just say that?  I mean… We’re all entitled to our opinions.

My last tip…

Don’t take criticism too seriously. 

If someone is determined to tear down your work or your character, THEY ARE NOT YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE.  Don’t waste too much creative time on the naysayers.  You are sharing your creativity with the people who will appreciate it.  Those are the people that motivate you.  Not someone on a power trip.  Keep your focus on the people who love you, encourage you, and appreciate your creativity.

 

Have you had experience with public criticism to your creative work?  How did you deal with it?  Leave a comment here

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My Creativity is Afraid of My Friends

fear, creativity, dream, share, friends

fear, creativity, dream, share, friendsSometimes I think I’m cursed with talent.  Maybe it’s a blessing.  But it often produces as much frustration as it does joy.  It’s this creative part built into me that I love at times.  But a lot of the time I’m afraid of it.

I’m a creative.  I have dozens of ideas running through my head at any given time.  It’s a driving force that I can’t seem to escape.  Often, I have to do something to get those ideas out or it drives me crazy.  If it’s crafting, decorating, designing, or writing, it’s a creative outlet.  It makes me feel normal again to be able to make something interesting or beautiful with the things that are swirling around in my mind.  And when I’ve created something and completed it, I want to share it.  But then a new frustration crops up.  Fear.

Fear kills more creativity than failure.

I’m finally admitting out loud that I’m afraid of my friends.  I’m afraid they won’t understand why I create.  That they’ll be critical or question the merit of it.  Maybe they won’t care.  Which might even be worse.  Does it really matter?  I can’t decide.

The things I create are part of me.  They are birthed from my mind and delivered through my hands.  Time, energy and a huge amount of myself is invested in the things I create.  I love them.  And I want to protect them and guard them against criticism.  Yet I want to share them because they mean so much to me.

It may or may not matter what someone else’s opinion is, but you are more vulnerable to the voices of the people you love. The people closest to us are the one’s that we often fear the most because they have the most influence in our lives.  Their opinions have more meaning than that of strangers.

Is this a rational fear?  Good question.  I’m still struggling with it.  My head says that it’s not.  That no one’s opinion should be a deterrent from reaching for a dream.  That my friends are great and will be supportive.

Fear says to keep the things that are precious to me inside, hidden and safe.  It’s not worth the pain.

But my heart says that I’ll never be truly fulfilled until I can share what I love with the world. That I can’t help people if I never share what I have.

Is my calling bigger than my fear?  Do I have what it takes to overstep the boundaries of fear?  These walls can’t hold me back forever.

If you believe strongly in your purpose to create, don’t let fear stand in the way.  There is a community of creatives that are walking the same road.  There are probably several in your own personal circle that you may not even be aware of.

Reach out to people who share some of the same interests.  If you’re a writer, seek out writers.  If you’re a sculptor, seek out other sculptors.  You can create a forum for people to share their interests in an online community or a local mastermind group.

Don’t hold back what you have.  You might be the inspiration that someone else needs.

The greatest thing to fear is fear itself.

Do you wrestle with fear like I do?  Are you keeping something safely hidden because it’s vulnerable to criticism?  How did you get through it or are you still struggling like me?  You can share your comments here.

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