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Sigh. We’ve been reading the words “people pleasing” a lot on Elephant Journal.
And you know why I think that is? Because most writers suffer from this.
I won’t come here to claim I know what everyone is thinking about, why they are people pleasers, or how they can heal.
Hell, I’m trying to heal as well.
And as I’m writing this, I’m anxious that someone will come and express their dislike of the article and how sick they are of hearing those words.
But the reality is that we are writers; we’re going to write about what we know.
As I’ve been contemplating my identity as a writer as of late, I’ve been having a lot of trouble pinpointing who I am. I’ve always seen myself as a fiction writer, but here I am, writing nonfiction articles. I’ve always thought that I’d be a published author (with a publishing house and all) by the time I was 28 years old, and here I am still struggling to write the “perfect” query for the “right” agents.
So the biggest question is: what’s been hindering me from reaching my full potential as a writer?
And I realized the answer this morning.
I tend to seek validation from other people when it comes to things that are important to me—hence, writing.
It’s such a negative word in my mind—in this context.
Especially in the creative field, seeking validation has the ability to destroy artists’ drive to share their works and make them doubt their own talent, even if they are the most talented people in the world.
Why do we often focus on the couple of negative comments even when we have thousands of positive ones?
Why do we feel the need to hear those positive comments to truly believe we are talented and good?
Why do we rely on other people to find the courage to share our art?
Is it because we extend our people pleasing tendencies toward our hobbies, talents, and passions?
Seeking validation is part of people pleasing.
We want to please people. We want to hear them say that they love our art. We want to believe that our art is good because it pleased people.
It’s an endless loop.
And what’s the cure to that? There’s no pill. There’s no tangible remedy. There’s only working on our self-worth.
I consciously looked up “people pleasing” on the YouTube channel, Psych2Go, and it bewildered me how much the steps could also apply to artists who depend on other people’s opinions to validate their art.
So here are a few things I learned from the video on how to tame our people pleasing tendencies and how I believe they apply to art:
>> The first step to validating your art is validating yourself. Respect your talent, your art, your journey toward becoming an artist, why you were interested in it in the first place. Be curious about yourself and how you view your art, not someone else.
>> Say “no.” When it comes to the entire people-pleasing population, it might be difficult to say no because they are worried about hurting other people’s feelings. When it comes to artists, saying no to destructive criticism is hard because it nourishes their own self-doubts. And mind you, most of the artists I’ve met and know don’t realize the extent of their talent. So, constructive criticism is always welcome, but destructive criticism, especially the one coming from non-artists, deserves a bolded, italicized, capitalized NO.
>> Take time for yourself. People pleasers might agree to unpleasant requests just to make the people around them happy. People-pleasing artists tend to agree to requests from other people concerning their art just to please them, whether it’s about producing more content, changing the style, fixing an already finished piece, or stop being artists altogether. In this case, taking time for ourselves is extremely important because we’ll be able to reflect on our own talent and why we’re doing this in the first place.
In simple words: request denied.
>> Know where you’re going. If you’re aiming to reach a certain goal, listening to 10 percent of the population won’t help. Believe in your art, your talent, and where you’re headed. There’s no artist, whether they are actresses/actors, illustrators, writers, and so on, who doesn’t have people who dislike their art. Art is subjective, and each person will have an opinion. Specify a goal and seek it no matter what those around you are saying.
>> Remove people with toxic tendencies from your life. This includes people online and people around you, those who try to bring you down and stifle your creativity, and those who abuse your talent for their own gain.
>> Stop apologizing. You are an artist. You have your own style, your own opinion, and your own dreams. Stop apologizing for being you. You will never please seven billion people on earth, so better start with pleasing yourself.
Here’s the video if you want more general information (not necessarily related to artists) on people pleasing: