Creative Living with Jamie Episode 285:
Conquering Your Fear of the Facebook Demons
Sharing our creative work on Facebook and other social media platforms brings up all kinds of resistance and fears. In this episode of Creative Living with Jamie, Jamie addresses a listener question, “How do you face the Facebook demons?”
Take It to Your Journal
- When did you learn to hide?
- How does hiding support you as an artist?
- How does it get in the way?
- What would support you in coming out of hiding?
- How can you build creative safety on your own terms?
Resources & Mentions
- Our Ask Jamie question this week comes from mixed media artist Allyson Gunnel. You can find her on Instagram and at her website, The Magenta Door.
- Allyson was one of the first graduates of Devotion.
- Do you have a question you’d like to ask a creative mentor? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Join the Studio and get access to 5 free Creative Practice Workshops
Welcome to Creative Living with Jamie. I’m your guide Jamie Ridler and on this podcast you and I are going to go on a great many adventures together. We’ll explore all aspects of what it means to live a creative life and we’ll embrace ourselves as artists. We’ll get curious, we’ll wonder and we’ll follow inspiration. We’ll wrestle with tough questions and we’ll brave challenges and sometimes will ask our friends for help. Along the way we will discover our courage, our confidence, ourselves and one another. We’ll come to know our artistic hearts and from there we will create. And that’s when the magic happens.
Hey there, everybody,
I hope you’re having a great time and feeling inspired in your studio (and remember, your life is your studio). This is the time of year when my studio starts to extend out into the garden. To be honest, for the past several years we’ve kind of ignored it. During the reno, it really got smished and afterwards we were so focused on getting our house in order that we didn’t quite make it to the outside. We had imagined we’d do a bit of a reno back there too – new fence, stone instead of grass, maybe a new deck – and what’s funny is that thought of what we might do ended up making it so we didn’t do anything at all. Have you ever had that happen?
This year Justin and I made a different decision, that we weren’t going to just leave the garden on pause and oh my goodness, it felt so good! So good to clear away all that was dead or dying, to uproot all that was unwanted or out of place, to make room for what would be beautiful. It felt respectful. It felt like honouring this the little patch of land that is ours. It felt like hope.
And so now the peonies are blooming and the twinkie lights are shining. The birds and squirrels are visiting and the latter not so welcome when they’re stealing my bulbs but still, but still, but still, I’m glad they’re there. I’ve planted a new clematis and it’s so wee. The first night after we put it in I was thinking about what it’s like when you go to bed for the first time in a new place and I hoped this little life would feel right at home. And today it is pouring and I don’t mind a bit because I know that rain will nourish it all.
What would nourish you this week, dear listener? What would make you feel at ease?
I know something that definitely doesn’t create that feeling and that is Facebook Demons, which is what I’m going to talk to you about today. I received a great question from artist Allyson Gunnell about how to not let these baddies get in the way of participating. That’s what I’ll be answering in this Ask Jamie episode but first, I want to share a little bit of Studio News.
Though we are still immersed in the joys of spring, summer really is just around the corner and that means it’s time for the summer Studio Yearbook! This fill-in-the-blank guided journal was designed to take you through an entire season of creative practice. You’ll learn to look for inspiration in every day. You’ll gather words and images that touch your creative heart. You’ll have a place for your gratitude practice and also learn to celebrate and appreciate every day. You’ll set intentions under the new moon and dream under the full moon. You’ll learn to focus on what truly matters to you.
Now, before this summer edition came out, I announced that this would be the last Studio Yearbook. Since then, I’ve been inundated with stories about what this journal has meant in the creative lives of so many yearbookers. For many, it has been a road back to themselves, a bridge to a creative life that they have only dreamed of. I must admit that hearing these stories gives me the wobbles about drawing the yearbook to a close. Even the people who have written about how they’ve been starting to move away from the yearbook, moving into new-found ways of journaling, even they make it clear how essential their time with the yearbook has been, how it has given them a safe and encouraging place to build their creative confidence, to get to know their artistic self and giving them the power and motivation to try, say, art journaling for the first time. Even for myself, I was working in the yearbook this week, catching up on some pages that I had missed and I thought, “Oh, this feels like home.”
It is amazing what can happen on the pages of a journal. It’s amazing the magic that can be awakened page by page, day by day, as you develop a creative practice. I hope you’ll join me for the adventure this summer. I’ll have a link to the Studio Yearbook in the show notes.
Okay. Now it’s time for Ask Jamie.
Today I have a question that came in from mixed media artist Allyson Gunnell. Allyson was one of the very first graduates of the Devotion program here in the studio. It has been an absolute joy to witness her deep commitment to her creative work and the way she and her work simply shine. I’ll leave a link to her website in the show notes. Be sure to check her out. I am delighted to be able to address her question today. I know it’s one that many of you can relate to!
I have a question for you as mentioned in the newsletter. (Oh, by the way, this is Jamie, not Allyson’s question, if you’re not getting my letters from the Studio, come on over to openthedoor.ca and sign up. You’ll also get a free mini series of creative practice workshops! Okay, back to Allyson’s question)
How do I face the Facebook demons? I’m part of a 10-week course where the instructor suggested not hiding (something I do quite well) and joining, posting, and commenting in the Facebook group. In the past, posting my artwork in Facebook leads me to check and recheck for likes, being disappointed when they are few and getting caught up in other posts with some negative energy (which is why I stay away from social media in general.)
I would like to participate in this class’ Facebook group and would appreciate some ideas on how to contain/work with/ remove myself from the Facebook demons.
Allyson, thank you so much for sending in this question. I know it is something that so many people can relate to, whether it’s sharing on Facebook specifically, on any other platform or, honestly, sharing in any other way. Sharing our creative work brings up all sorts of stuff, often triggering our hurts, memories, needs and desires. So first I really want you to know you’re not alone. I am guessing that if I asked everyone listening to this podcast to raise their hand if they relate, just about everyone’s hands would be up. In fact, I’m just imagining everyone doing that exactly where they are, raising your hand if you relate. I’m looking around the grocery store or the laundry or your neighbourhood while you’re walking your dog. If someone else raises their hand too, you know they’re listening to the same podcast!
Let’s talk about hiding and then we’ll come around to how to face those Facebook demons so you can share. By the way, I’ll also post some Take It to Your Journal questions on the topic of hiding. There will be a link to that in the show notes.
Hiding is such a powerful and familiar strategy for highly sensitive creative people. We use it for a reason. If I was to ask you about your personal art history, it probably wouldn’t be too hard for you to tell me why you learned to hide. We’ll all have different stories but our desire to hide ultimately comes from a deeply human drive – the drive to be and to feel safe. This is absolutely reasonable so I don’t want you to give yourself a hard time about hiding. You’re not only allowed to but encouraged to create safety for yourself and hiding is one way to do it. Now what we want to do is just expand the range of tools that are available.
Let me say too that hiding can be a powerful gift that we give ourselves and our work. Perhaps we can reimagine it as sheltering. When we shelter our art from forces that might (even unwittingly) do it damage, we are being a good steward to our work. There are times in our creative process when it is so important that we nourish our work and our relationship to it without the winds of outside opinion, which brings us back to sharing.
The first question I have in return for you, Allyson, and I want you and everyone listening to put the show on pause and either take this question to your journal or really think it out before you go on – why are you sharing? When you put your work into a Facebook group, what is your motivation? Knowing the answer to this question will help surface the best approach for facing those demons. So, put me on pause and with list out all the honest and true reasons why you are sharing. Then come back.
Okay, I’m going to address a few common reasons why we share our work, including one that’s right there in your question. I hope it will address some of your reasons and give you some great strategies.
The one reason you’ve made explicit in your question is simple and clear: you’d like to participate. This is a warm and wonderful motivation. Our desire to be a part of something, to have a shared experience, brings human beings together and that is a beautiful thing. The wonderful thing is that participating is something you have 100% control over. It’s entirely up to you. If this is one of your goals, you can put something in the Facebook group and give yourself a big gold star of success. You did it! You may also find other ways of participating like supporting other artists, asking questions and sharing resources.
Another reason we might share in a classroom group is that we want feedback. Now, here we need to make a distinction between feedback and validation, which I’ll talk about in a minute. At the very core of taking classes is our desire to learn. When we’re developing new skills and learning new methods, it can be helpful to have the instructor or other students provide feedback. This can help us identify where we’re on the right track and where we could use some further growth.
If you’re posting because you’d like feedback, make that clear as a part of your post. Tag the instructor, ask specific questions, create clarity about the kind of responses you are looking for. This might look like, “In this piece I tried the blending technique from lesson 3. I feel like I was able to achieve a good blend with the pastels but then I noticed it was less effective when I was working with the blue and red in the bottom corner. Any advice on getting a more consistent blend? Does the colour choice make a difference?” That’s a request for feedback, the kind of feedback you’re looking for and that will help you further your learning and grow as an artist.
Now, let’s talk about validation, which is where posting often gets sticky The truth is that every person who shares their work in a group wants to get those likes. We want to be seen and appreciated. We want other people to like our work – of course we do! It’s exciting and encouraging when we post something and we see that other people respond, preferably lots of other people and preferably with lots of love for our work. When we receive that, we bask in that joy. We made something and it struck a chord. That is a truly beautiful thing.
The problem is our believe that if it doesn’t strike a chord – right here, right now, in this environment, in this form – then there’s a problem, that that somehow signals that there is something lacking or even wrong with us as artists or with our work. This can be devastating and it can also be a total disconnect from reality. Not getting likes can be the result of something as random as posting at a time when something major happens in the news or on a day when the weather is spectacularly nice so people are outside. It’s just not an adequate measure of the power, beauty and value of your work.
But the deeply insidious part of that response is that it seeps into the cracks. It seeps into the cracks of our creative confidence, all of the hurt places where we are looking for validation. We are vulnerable to this when we’re looking for a sign that our art is worthwhile and when we’ve internalized the idea that what makes it worthwhile is someone else’s response to it. This can be hard to see because it’s such a fine distinction between the sincere desire to be seen and to have our artwork appreciated and the exhausting diminishment that comes from the ongoing need for external validation.
So, how do we tell them apart? Well, one fills us up and the other gives us a temporary high that keeps us craving more and more and more. One like is never enough. Our need for likes is bottomless. It’s more akin to an addiction than a connection.
So, if you find yourself going back again and again and again to see if you have more likes, stop for a minute and give yourself the validation that your creative spirit is seeking. Remind yourself of all the reasons that you are creating. Celebrate your artistic heart, the way it shows up to make something in this world. Recognize the creative you have always been and always will be. It is your nature. It is who you are. And one like or one million likes is not going to change that.
Step into that Facebook group knowing who you are, an artist with an unshakeable relationship to her art. Be aware of why you are sharing and then share with an approach that honours that. And if those demons give you the wobbles, step away from the container and have your feelings. Soothe your jangling nerves. Let the storm pass. What you’ll start to see is that the storm aren’t going to stop you. Though you may like the likes, you don’t need them to show you up as you are. More and more you’ll see that useful feedback gets you excited about growing as an artist, true resonance with the work gives you courage and the things that used to trigger that need for validation impact you less and less.
Keep creating. Keep believing in yourself and your work. Nothing’s going to stop you now.
And that goes for each and every one of you listening. You are here because your creativity is calling. Show up for your work. It will be the adventure of a lifetime.
I’ll see you soon.