Sometimes, you can face a professional (or personal) set-back that can send you reeling and render you virtually helpless. When bad things happen to creative people – be it a betrayal of some sort, Machiavellian office politics, or the failure of a project among any number of things – creative people need to mobilize and face negativity head-on.
I am no psychologist, but I wanted to address this topic – however briefly – because as artists and innovators, we often have very deep sensitivities that we have to protect from damages. It’s crucial in order to keep a productive schedule.
So if you have experienced a blow to your psyche, here’s a few observations to help you through the trauma and move forward.
Recognize the event, and acknowledge that it has happened. Putting off this realization can only prolong the event’s hold over you, giving it more power than it originally held.
Understand what has taken place, and get a sense of what your feelings are. Are you angry? Fearful of repercussions? Disappointed that you let things go awry? What is it that you feel, and why are you feeling it? Being truthful about your emotions will allow for a deeper understanding of how to resolve them.
Figure out what the fall-out is (professional, or personal, or both) and come up with an action plan to deal with it. If you have to answer to others, doing so earlier, rather than later, with a resolution, can help make your position less vulnerable.
Be able to still appear busy if you need more time to recover. If you can handle it, try to do enough work at one time in a marathon session to get it over with. Then you can share it in smaller segments with some regularity so as to seem fully functional, even if you’re not. Professionally, sometimes we have to fake it even when things are off-kilter elsewhere in our lives.
Seek out help in dealing with what has happened. A trusted friend may be a good sounding board, but not always. Sometimes, a professional opinion is just the detachment you need in confronting pain and then moving on. Options include a therapist, mentor, career coach – even a personal trainer or hairdresser! Be judicious about whom you confide in, so there are no unexpected repercussions later.
Indulge in little luxuries. It’s at our most vulnerable times that we seem to care for ourselves the least. Ensure that your food choices give you energy, not empty calories. Don’t abandon the exercise – it’s therapeutic to kick out your frustrations. Use a body scrub or loofah in a cold water shower to promote blood circulation. Get a massage if you can. Anything that can impart a sense of physical peace is helpful.
Resolve to more forward by accepting any responsibility you may bear in the matter. Whether it’s big or small, taking any amount of responsibility for what has happened allows you to take back control. When you take back control, you reclaim your power. This is important – although things may never be as they were before, you can establish a new normalcy. And that goes a long way towards finding some sense of your former self.
I wrote this post quickly, from the heart, without any research. As I said, it would be brief, but hopefully not flippant. Because design is often inextricably linked with our personal selves (many projects are “our darlings” or “our babies,”) we need to take care when wounded, or the entire creative process shuts down. Most of us can’t afford to let that happen.
As I age, I am learning more about the art of travelling light, in every sense of the meaning. Increasingly, I have decided that if it won’t or can’t be buried with me, then it’s okay for me to let things go. This flies in the face of my (admittedly flawed) nature, but I’ve always considered myself a life-long learner.
Take care of yourself. Your artistic soul depends on it.