Positive Self Regard

What you see is what you get. If you look for signs that you are disliked, you will find them. If you look for signs that you are loved, you will find them too. I believe this.

But this rugged self determinism doesn’t really take into account the reality that, in certain environments, there are truly biases working against you and, yes, biases, too, working in your favor. You do not even know what you’ve got or don’t have going for you. We discussed this the other night in a book club around the topics of hidden bias presented in Blindspot by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald.

I encourage myself through positive self talk in my journals — I first learned how to do this, I think, when I read Gilda Radner’s book, It’s Always Something. She conducts a conversation with her childhood self at the end of the memoir. I have always believed there are many personalities within one person. This is why I love the theater, I guess.

My encouraging self talk is a way to drive out the nagging self doubt. We all have doubts. I always remember that even the pilot Sully who made the heroic landing feels he could’ve done more. Than what? Landing his plane on water? The Hudson River with its smooth runway caught his plane like a net ten years ago.

Yesterday in my watercolor class at the Art Students League, I was totally doubtful about my work as a fine artist. All of my watercolor sketches were spread across one wall for everyone to see. I felt like hiding under a bushel.

Later, I overheard two women talking — one was saying she would never be very good. The other said, ‘If you didn’t believe you could get better, maybe you’d stop trying.’ We are always on road to perfection. We have never arrived.

Yes. We need to encourage ourselves through positive self talk. But we also need to know we are moving towards becoming better. And there are forces working for and against us. The main point is to never quit.

Give yourself a break from self doubt.

What you are must always displease you if you are to accomplish that which you are not. – St. Augustine

Good Enough

Perfect is the enemy of Art. Perfect stands like a little vampire on my shoulder, pointy pen and pointy teeth, waiting to pounce.

Perfect plots revenge on Creativity. She gathers her posse – Self Doubt, Superiority, Righteous.

Ah, but Creativity drags her friends from their hang out at the coffee shop. Creativity’s two good pals are Art and Good Enough. Good Enough is tall, although she has a limp. She brings her sister, the one with the lovable shrug. Her name? Whatevs.

Tensions mount.

Perfect squares off against Creativity, like the Sharks and Jets of West Side Story. They are ready to rumble in an abandoned schoolyard. The Righteous goad Perfect. They are going for blood.

But Good Enough and her friends can’t take it any more. They begin to giggle. There is nothing Perfect hates more than giggles. It is like a pail of water on the Wicked Witch. Giggles melt Perfect. Giggles are contagious.

The girls all get silly. They all fall down. They stay out all night, playing hopscotch, jumprope and basketball. They all become friends.

These are the warring factions within me: Perfect, Righteous, Self Doubt and Superiority against Creativity, Good Enough, Whatevs and Art.

Who are your rumbling righteous? Who are your creative conquerors? Whose side are you on?

How does your creative self make your perfectionist side giggle?