It's no secret I love the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Nothing empowers me more and helps me focus on what is important. It took many years and a lot of background noise to penetrate but at 42, I feel more alive and full of energy than ever before. It wasn't always the case though – I had to wade in the same pool of self-doubt and uncertainty as many before me. I had to grow a thick skin and learn not to obsess on all the negative and ‘constructive’ criticism I seemed to attract. The journey to self-empowerment was difficult and many lessons were learned the hard way but in the end, I emerged a warrior.
I've eluded many times about all the people that let me down or wounded me with their negative comments or suggestions. Sometimes, these people are the closest to you and they can destroy you with one hurtful sentence. Most times, they have no idea how their words crushed or dismantled you. How many times have loved ones discouraged you from pursuing an art career? Most times, their motive is benign – they don’t want to see you fail. But how can you so easily extinguish the fire of passion? Walk away from a dream and not look back and wonder, what if? It’s simple. You just can’t.
I've heard all the negative comments you could imagine and they hurt me just the same way they hurt many of you. But remember this - we cannot change the minds of others or keep them from saying these things. The only thing you can control is how you react.
Trust thyself. What does that even mean? It means that we are put here on the earth for a purpose. Fortunately, many of you have connected with that energy and are expressing it in the form of artwork. The more we tap into that genius the more we become comfortable and confident. If we've been given the knowledge to do a portion of what it takes to be a successful artist, we MUST have the ability to learn and do the rest. Why would we be given an incomplete blueprint to a successful life? That sounds more like a curse than a blessing. No one is born with all the answers. You must act on your own inspiration and seek out all the answers – it’s imperative if you want to succeed.
Everyone has the ability to tap into their own personal brand of genius. But how many of us listen to the naysayers and fools rather than trust our own instincts? Sadly, most of us. Every time we turn our backs on our dreams because someone imprinted a fragment of fear in our brains, we die a little inside. If you've ever watched the movie Inception, you know that the most powerful weapon anyone can possibly possess is the ability to imprint an idea into the mind of another person. With that example in mind, what if we could reverse the process? What if we looked in the mirror every day and congratulated ourselves for standing up for what we believed in? What if we took the time to close our eyes each morning and visualize who and what we want to be? What if we learned in the process to trust ourselves? The answer is that you can. Change your habits. Dream more and shut out the background noise that isn't serving you.
In all my years of being a professional artist, I realized that the more risks and chances I took, the farther I went. Even when I failed, I learned something in the process that made me a stronger and more confident artist. In the game of life, I'd rather be the fool that tried and failed than the person that played it safe all their lives and did nothing. To trust yourself and your own dreams is to live. Dreaming isn't just for children. The people who criticize you for dreaming big are nothing more than resentful individuals that gave up on their own lives years ago. To them, you are just a reminder of what they failed at.
Here are a few daily habits you can adopt.
1. Turn off the news - all of it. The media makes its money on negativity.
2. Do not share your ambitions and dreams with family, friends, and acquaintances that have a negative effect on your creativity and self-esteem. Your dreams and goals are precious things - why would you share them with people who would squash them in front of you? Be mindful of how people make you feel and avoid being caught in the trap of allowing them an entrance into your ambitions.
3. It’s important to have a least one cheerleader in your life that reminds you of how far you’ve come and how deserving you are of your dream. It could be a husband, wife, partner or a close friend. These people are important because they will give you all the encouragement you need to press on when things look unachievable. My wife has always been my biggest supporter and confidant - I can’t imagine how my life would’ve turned out if I didn’t have her by my side.
4. Write down your goals on paper. Stare at them every morning - close your eyes and visualize what those dreams would feel like if they came to fruition. The more you see that perfect life, the more you draw it to you and reinforce it with your actions.
5. Act on at least one instinctual idea you have every day. Make a phone call to a gallery. Plan an exhibition. Try a new idea for a painting. Try a new marketing idea. Do something every day. At the end of each month, you'll have 30 new actionable items that you acted on.
6. Look at yourself in the mirror each day and learn to respect the image you see. You are an amazingly talented person. Own it. Express it. Be proud of yourself. The more you build yourself up the more it will be harder to tear you down.
Be the incredible person you were born to be - only YOU can make that choice. Only you can unlock that amazing person inside of you waiting to be seen. Only you can spend time nurturing your dreams and building a beautiful life. Be bold. Do unbelievable things. Have the guts to do what others are afraid to. All you have to do is trust thyself.