Transcending External Validation, and Finding Your Voice
As an artist or creative professional, any "need" for praise or external validation is deeply problematic, and can set you off on a road of never-ending conflict between your desires, people's opinions, and what is really true for you. You may feel torn apart by every criticism, and every opinion of what you "should" do that doesn't match the last one. Who will you try to please if everyone wants something different? It becomes debilitating.
There is no way to find your true voice as an artist if you are addicted to external validation. And you need that voice if you want to get anywhere.
What is it that makes you feel unworthy until someone tells you you're not? Is there a painful truth in there somewhere? Perhaps you know that being a people-pleaser is not honouring who you are. Perhaps you know you are compromising your true worth—your uniqueness. Perhaps you know you've strayed from the path you should be on.
When you're ready, take an honest look and see what is true for yourself.
Then how do you get back on the right track? How do you find your voice?
Do you know why you create at all? Besides to pay the bills, what would you like to accomplish with your work? It should be based on things you are truly passionate about.
The idea of following your passion may seem cheesy, frivolous, or unrealistic, but there's great logic behind it. For one, it's important to have that excitement to drive you to create, to propel you forward with your own energy, rather than reaching for some future reward. This keeps you motivated and aligned. Your passion is also contagious! It helps people get really excited about your work, which leads to more success. And it shows you where your truth lies. Your voice.
Following your passion is not just a helpful guide, it's completely necessary for a thriving and enjoyable creative practice.
So start by writing a mission statement for your work that you are genuinely excited about. Get something down right away, even if it's not quite right. Your mission statement can evolve over time. This is now your purpose!
Let your purpose be your light in the darkness. Let this be how you validate your work from now on. Does the work resonate with your truth? Your mission? That is far more important than praise.
You can also try creating some things that you don't show to anyone. What would be super exciting and fun for you to create, just for yourself? Then, is there a connection between this work and your mission statement? Maybe there should be.
When you use a higher purpose to drive your work, this will affect your results subconsciously, so it's not always obvious by looking at at a project if it matches your mission statement (like with much abstract art). Use your intuition, and learn to know whether your work is in tune with your purpose or not. Be honest with yourself.
These things will help you find the path that works best for you—and please know that this will truly be best for others too!
It's important to remember that doing the right thing doesn't always involve doing the thing that people want. And what people want isn't always what they need. Parents definitely know this! It can be complicated.
So un-complicate your practice by setting your own path, and stick to it! Remember to stay true to yourself, by being honest with yourself. You aren't just doing what makes you happy, you are doing what you're truly meant to do, and setting an example so others can do the same. What greater gift could you give than that?
And of course, the paradox is that when you learn to ignore everyone and find your voice, your purpose, and your passion, this will be the work that gets the most praise. Though you might not even care.
If you want to read more, check out Create Now.