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How To Regain Your Confidence as an Artist

How To Regain Your Confidence as an Artist

Eric Maisel

Dear Dr. Maisel: I’m wondering how important confidence really is to an artist—and if it is really important, what can you do if you’ve lost some of it—or a lot of it! – Rachel L., Portland

Thanks, Rachel.

Yes, creativity requires confidence—and life can rob you of confidence. A teacher can choose you as the person she wants to humiliate in her third grade class and she can succeed in making you feel humiliated. How much confidence is stolen from you in that excruciating year? How many other robberies occur in childhood and adulthood? Over time, how much confidence remains? If you’ve been robbed of confidence, that will manifest itself as an inability to conceive of and follow through on creative projects, a tendency to procrastinate, a fear of messes and a fear of the unknown, and other creativity killers.

Consider the following: A painter opens his email and is thrilled to find a note from a gallery owner who appears to own a nice gallery in a faraway city. The note explains that the gallery owner has visited the painter’s website, loves the painter’s work, but can’t find the painter’s prices posted. What, the gallery owner wonders, are the artist’s prices?

This question sends the artist into a tizzy, as he has no idea if his prices are perhaps ridiculously high or, quite possibly, perhaps ridiculously low (which is why he has avoided posting them on his site). He stews about the matter for several days, feeling his usual lack of confidence grow exponentially. Finally he visits his best friend, a successful artist with a great deal of confidence. “What should I do?” the painter cries. “I know I’m blowing this opportunity by not replying, but I don’t know what to say!”

His friend shakes his head and laughs. “Get me the gallery’s phone number,” he says. The painter does that. His friend picks up the phone, dials, and says, “I represent Jack Sprat. You emailed him about his prices. We are setting new prices this year and would love your input. His recent works, the ones you saw on his site, are each two feet by three feet. How would you consider pricing them?” The painter watched as his friend listens, occasionally nods, and finally says, “Thanks! We’ll follow up on that in a day or two.”

When his friend hangs up, the painter almost leaps on him. “What did he say?” he cries. “That he would be inclined to charge $4800 retail,” his friend replies, “and that he would like to try out two of your paintings, the blue one and the red one.” The painter is beside himself with joy. Then, suddenly, he exclaims, “How did you DO that? You just picked up the phone and called!” At this, his friend shakes his head. “Jack,” he says, “How could you NOT do that?”

If you’ve lost a good bit of confidence, there are many ways to rebuild it. Perhaps the best way is to create a life purpose vision that reminds you day-in and day-out of your dreams, your intentions and your desire to make yourself proud. Creating your life purpose vision is a three-step process. First you begin by creating a life purpose sentence or statement. Second, you translate those words into a feeling in your body and a message in your brain. Third, you begin to lead with that feeling and that message, making your daily meaning choices based on their congruence with your life purpose vision.

Next: Create a Working Life Statement →

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