Dealing with naysayers


One of the things I found somewhat shocking when I was first starting out in sculpting and doll making was the lack of support from others. When you are learning an art, whether it be sculpture, painting, writing or something else, you expect people will naturally be interested in what you’re doing and encourage you to keep going. Unfortunately what you may find instead is that many people are only interested in being critical, acting as though they know a lot more about your art than you do, or treating you as if you’re wasting your time.

There are many negative and hopeless people out in the public arena, so you’ll expect to find them there and you most certainly will. Knowing they’re there can help you to prepare yourself. However, when I was starting out, it was also shocking to me to find that much of this behaviour could come from people I considered close friends and even my own family members. I assumed they would be supportive and I was sometimes very wrong.

People have many reasons why they need to share their negativity with you.

If you were able to look under the surface of their words to you, you’d figure out pretty quickly that their reasons are all about them, and not about you or your work. They may be jealous of you for a number of reasons, for example maybe they see how brave you are to be trying something they’ve wanted to do for a long time but don’t have the courage to do. Maybe they see a spark of true talent in you and wish they had it. Or they may need to appear to have knowledge about your chosen art form in order to give themselves a pat on the back.

At times you’ll find that you try to share your work with a close friend, relative or spouse, and they just do not seem interested. This can be disheartening in itself, as plain disinterest can feel quite negative. The message it can send you is that you’re wasting your time on this thing, or that it simply isn’t important.

The negativity of critical and judgmental people can get you down and rob you of enthusiasm and motivation. Whether you’re hit with a barrage of discouraging comments, your work is the butt of someone’s stupid joke, or you’re the recipient of a thoughtless one-line insult, it can really knock the wind out of your sails. You may immediately question whether you are on the right track at all, whether you can cope with other people’s opinions, or perhaps whether you should even continue in your work.

It can be powerful to take things that seem like negatives and flip them into something positive that you can use to improve your work.

Sometimes criticism can help guide you in lifting the standards of your work.  Learn how to take what is valuable from criticism , and then heartily dispose of the rest. If, for example, someone noted that the finish on my doll’s clothing did not look very professional, I could evaluate that comment. If I agreed with her, I’d take that criticism on board as an area to improve. I would simply take the useful data from her comment, and then discard her superior tone and her dismissive attitude. Mentally, I’d thank her for the input and then simply erase her negativity from my mind.

Dealing with negativity or disinterest from loved ones can be more difficult.

When you hope for support and encouragement but receive criticism, disinterest, eye rolls or other negativity, it can be very disappointing and even hurtful. In the interest of keeping your relationships healthy and negotiating the type of relationship you want, I’d highly suggest you communicate your feelings about this with your loved ones. Try not to assume their motives for responding in the way they have, but rather talk it out with them calmly and keep communication lines open. Hopefully they can learn to support you in the way that you need, and you can meet them half way by trying to understand why they’re responding to you the way they are. Communication is key.

As well as having a robust sense of purpose and direction for yourself, it can be extremely beneficial to have a group of supportive, likeminded individuals that you can turn to. People who understand the types of challenges you face as you try to build your skills, start selling your work or explore ways of using your creativity to build the life you want. At times being a creative person can seem a bit isolating as you spend a fair bit of your time inside your own head. But be encouraged; likeminded people do exist out there, and having a creatively-fuelled life can be integrated and community-centred.

Having a support group of people who are interested in similar things gives you a wonderful base of experience and knowledge to draw from.

Any time you have a group of people gathered in a similar interest you will find varying levels of experience and time committed to that interest, which can offer you a invaluable range of perspectives and insights. No one can support you as well as someone who has been through the exact same thing you’re going through right now. And in a supportive group you multiply the information available to you many times over. Having a supportive group can be truly invaluable to your ongoing work.

Finding a group to help support you in your work can be a bit tricky. It can feel similar to finding a new best friend, in a way. Many groups are present online. They may be related to your specific art medium, or perhaps running home businesses, or just generally for creative people.  You may in fact just stumble upon one through looking at websites that are related to your interests. The important thing is finding a group of people that really resonates with you; ‘your’ people. If you feel like these people really understand where you’re coming from and have had many of the same types of experiences, that’s probably the group for you.

I’m thinking about starting a supportive community of my own, through my website. I want to be able to gather people from all over who are at various stages of exploring the power of their creativity. I’d like to build a community that supports and encourages. Now, these things can take a little time to get going. But if you’re interested I would love you to register your interest with me by subscribing and/or dropping me a line in a comment or through my contact page. When I feel we have enough potentially interested people I’ll be able to let you know when we’re ready to proceed.



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