This post was on the topic of Self-Care as part of The Declaration of You blog tour launch. The Declaration of You is a really awesome illustrated workbook created by Michelle Ward and Jessica Swift, who are both creative and artistic in various ways. The book is all about uncovering what wonderful things you are amazing at and deciphering how to use those gifts to do what you are meant to do in this world, with passion and pleasure. You can order the book over here on the book’s website.
Artists are usually astoundingly harsh on themselves. Think about your most successful artist friends. When they’re having trouble with a piece or not making time for their art or struggling in any other aspect of their artistic lives, they beat themselves up. And if you’re honest with yourself, you probably do it too – at least a little.
I’m not sure why we feel the need to hold ourselves to impossible standards. Perhaps it’s penance for attempting to make money doing something traditionally thought of as a frivolous (not to mention entirely un-lucrative) career path?
Whatever the reason, we are guilty of it.
And the truth is that we shouldn’t be doing it at all – even a little.
What stifles creativity more than being berated for little failures? What kills your will to push through struggles more than hearing that you’re incompetent, lazy, untalented, and no one will ever buy your art? And we excuse the behavior because we are the ones saying it to ourselves. Somehow, it’s ok, as long as we’re not placing that negativity and cruelty onto another.
When I spell it out like this, it’s easy to see how silly I’m being. But then I start to scold myself – and catch myself scolding and realize that I’m scolding myself for scolding myself… and then it just becomes a mess!
So let’s make a pact. No, we’re not going to NEVER EVER BERATE OURSELVES AGAIN. That’s not realistic. But I think we can try to do better. Try to treat ourselves a little better. Nurture ourselves like we would a child who can’t figure out how to keep the crayon in the lines on the coloring page. We wouldn’t scream. We wouldn’t point our finger and laugh. We would gently hold the child’s hand and remind him to take it slow and hold the crayon carefully.
Our pact. Yes.
So I’d like to make a pact with you to try harder. But not to try harder with our craft, attempting to rid ourselves of imperfect. To try harder to stop trying so hard to be perfect. To try harder to nurture ourselves with a gentle hand. To practice radical, inspiring self-care.
(If you’re in on the pact, comment below, send me an email, post it on social media, or just quietly say it aloud to yourself. But let it out of your head and into the world in some way. It’s too important to keep it behind bars.)
I’m not much for affirmations myself, but if you like them go ahead and use this one. Or just post it up by your workspace as a reminder of our little pact.
“I am imperfection and that’s ok. Sometimes I even fail and that’s ok too. I don’t strive for perfection, but simply for growth and beauty. I nurture myself with the gentle hand that practices radical, inspiring self-care. I am an artist.”
Still curious about the book? Check out the trailer: