“I can’t draw” – that’s what I used to think – my first attempts at drawing after childhood were tiny pencil sketches so small you could hardly see them. And I would not dare colour them in, in case I “ruined it”. But I’m not the only one – my experience with helping people create their future through drawing has meant I’ve heard many cries of “I’m no good at art” – some have had to practise drawing circles, triangles and squares before gaining the confidence to create the stick people and house shapes they used to draw happily as a child.
So why are so many of us reluctant to put pen to paper, especially if there is a risk someone might see our work? Well, I once had a craft stall where children could come (for free) to make any picture or model they liked from recycled materials. No rules. They could do as much or as little as they wanted with the materials provided.
What I noticed was that adults who accompanied the children would often correct the child’s work (“no, the eyes go there” “grass isn’t that colour”), sometimes even taking over and completing the project. Looking back at how the adults enjoyed finishing off their child’s work, I believe this was because they really wanted to get stuck in and be creative, and were frustrated by their child’s inaccuracies and/or slow work. And they didn’t feel they could make their own project so they had to pretend to be helping their child. But what message did this give the child , and what beliefs were the adults passing on to their children? That their creativity had to be “right”, “perfect”? That they were not capable of finishing their own work? That it wasn’t OK for adults to “play” and create their own art?
Here’s the thing – young children pick up “beliefs” from the behaviour of adults around them, and those beliefs can be true for them all their lives if they don’t question them. These beliefs can be so easily formed – like “it’s not safe for me to be creative” because an adult criticised a piece of work when they were young. Mostly adults don’t do this deliberately, it’s how they were brought up and they have their own critical voice in their head
What happens is this creates a voice in our heads, that continues to criticise and put us down when we try something new. We think it has to be perfect first time.
But that’s not how it works. If Thomas Eddison had been afraid to fail we wouldn’t have the electric light bulb – he “failed” over 100 times to create a working bulb, but each time knew that he was one step closer to finding the answer.
So next time you try something new, know that it doesn’t have to be “perfect” – just whatever is right for you. Ignore that critical voice in your head – it’s just the beliefs that you’ve picked up from others. Sure, not everyone will “get” what you do – and the people who allow you to express yourself and grow without criticism are the ones you want as friends and associates. But be kind to the others – you only have to hear them occasionally, they have to listen to their own self criticism all of the time!
I’d like to leave you with a quote to consider, try it on and see if it could become a new belief for you! 🙂
“Fear of mistakes puts you under unnecessary pressure and makes you more likely to make errors. So the freedom to be allowed to make mistakes reduces the number you make – in all aspects of your life. This means that the freedom to be imperfect leads, in the end, to perfection”