In my weekly writing workshop, we have a rule for reviews and critiques: every negative comment must be sandwiched in between two positive comments. This way, we reason, the person being reviewed is more likely to hear the good stuff, right?
Actually, no. Time after time, I’ve experienced (and watched others experience) the reality that our brains can’t comprehend positive reviews very well. I always hear the negative and often quickly forget the positive. Why do we choose to only hear the negative?
I think it’s because reviews, critiques, and the word “no” echo the worst we secretly fear about ourselves. We have “super-secret creative behavior.” It includes believing that we will never be good enough and that everyone is already way ahead of us and we’ll never, ever, ever catch up.
That is just not true.
But we believe this and we feed this SSCB (super-secret creative behavior) by reading reviews of others’ books and feeling like a failure when they get a good review (and rejoicing when they get shredded). Or we laugh when someone else’s grand plan flops or we feel a bit better about ourselves when our photographs get more views on Flickr than someone else’s. We can’t help it, but we CAN change it. SSCB can be modified to something much more healthy.
We have to quit believing that if everyone reviews, critiques, and tells us yes in a positive manner that they love us and that if everyone reviews, critiques, and tells us no in a negative manner that they don’t love us anymore.
Our brains have to get over this simple SSCB and now! Reviews and critiques have nothing to do with being loved. It doesn’t mean you are or aren’t loved. It means you are being creative and trying something. Sure, there are people out there who review you so that you do feel that everyone hates you, but that’s because THEY can’t handle reviews, critiques, or the word no. It is said that most reviewers and critics (including the myriad of MFA graduates who never create again) are just failed artists.
So what if we “pre-load” ourselves with self-love as a creative artist? I don’t mean repetitive affirmations, but an actual stepping out onto the water’s surface of the creative force that is our birthright. We were Created, we are Creative. You were first loved, so look at yourself with love and empathy. Is this where you believe your creative force comes from? Or does it come from trying to prove all those reviews, critiques, and “no” wrong?
There is nothing wrong with using “no” to redirect, but we’ll soon run out of energy if we do it all the time. We’ll get weary and we’ll slip back into our SSCB. We have to really take a look at our creativity. Does it come from a positive belief in our life or a negative one? Do we create to prove the world wrong? Or do we create to fully experience our Created self? I believe every human being on earth was Created for a purpose. This is where I yearn to create from.
Because tapping into that Creative force (God, Creator, the Lion, or whatever your term is) won’t wear me out. It won’t wear me down. It won’t make me fearful or worrisome. It won’t support my super-secret creative behavior; it will turn me from it. It enlivens my spirit, and brings me to life.
Action Step: What is your super-secret creative behavior? Do you have to carry talismans with you? Do you have to believe something negative in order to create? Are you ready to change that?