There is an abundance of writing on shutter speeds, gear porn, photographic techniques and teaching, however I have read little on the importance of self care - which is surprising considering the era we live in.
When I say self care, I do not mean how you wash yourself every morning. I mean from a mental perspective, how you keep yourself healthy and proactive in an industry filled with critique and sometimes toxic negative feedback.
The harsh side of social media
“You’re work has no flow or meaning - it bores me. You have uncreative content and an abundance of poor compositions”.
It is not the worst thing that has been said to me first thing in the morning, however it’s not the warmest welcome into the day either.
Feedback comes in all shapes and sizes, it’s an extremely important part of an artist's development. It gives us a different perspective, enabling us to stop and think about what improvements we can make to our work. Sometimes it will be constructive, sometimes it will bear no meaning and sometimes it will just be spurted out in a negative, none productive manner that can be difficult to digest, without feeling angry or defensive.
When I read the above quote I smiled to myself and started going about my day. But then, as the day developed, I found myself replaying the comment in my mind over and over.
Why would they say that? Why only be negative? These were some examples of the questions I found myself asking.
Of course, they are entitled to their opinion, what they think and feel is true to them and I have to respect that - to a certain extent. I found the comment to provocative, in the sense that the objective was to make me feel bad about my work, rather than as a means to help me improve it.
Such is the life of social media, more so when you are putting yourself out there, you have to accept people will be blunt and sometimes lack tact when they have a dialogue with you. However, that does not mean it should not impact you. I think it is far more productive to accept it does bother you, process and deal with it, rather than to pretend it isn’t an issue.
Processing Negative Comments
So you have logged onto your social platforms, looking forward to seeing the sea of admiration given for your latest post. Amongst that beautiful free flowing sea of acceptance and constructive support - you see that one comment - the one that sticks out like a shark and chases you no matter where you go - what do you do?
Below is a list of steps that you can take to process the comment and then move on from it.
Accept that it bothers you - The first step to take is to accept a comment is bothering you. Pride and a reluctance to be seen as “weak” can prevent you from taking ownership of how you feel. You are not weak, it is human for hurtful comments to generate feelings of hurt. Accept the impact is there and start to deal with it. (I do appreciate for some of you mavericks out there, negative comments have no impact on you - I am truly envious).
Write down how it makes you feel - Negative comments can make you feel many different ways. They can make you angry, frustrated, upset or knock your confidence. Take some time to write them down and get those thoughts and feelings outside of your mind, where they are most likely being destructive. If you don’t want to write them down, shout them out loud - bring them to life and get them out of your system.
Write down 3 positive comments you have received - Go through your social media accounts and find the best three comments that make you feel excited and proud of your content. There will be many I’m sure, and when you identify them, focus your energy on these comments and give them space in your mind.
Write down 3 constructive comments you have received - It can’t all be pats on the back. If you haven't had anyone tell you how you can improve your craft, then mostly likely you’re being lied to. Find 3 comments where people have taken their own time to critique your work and give you constructive feedback. Listen to what they have to say and then focus your energy on trying to make those improvements.
Give yourself a time to let it go - During my time as a stand up comedian, where I would endure many nights of people not laughing at my set - I was taught the importance of giving myself a time to let it go. For example, if I absolutely tanked the night before - I would tell myself by 8am the next day I would forget about it and move on to the next gig. The same can be applied to negative comments. There is nothing wrong with it having an impact on you, but tell yourself by a certain time the following day you will let it go and move on, focusing your mind on being creative.
Looking at the bigger picture.
It’s important to note, that those on social media who set out to be mean or hurtful, quite possibly are carrying some form of hurt within themselves. Remember that, and remember you do not want to carry the same hurt yourself. Get centred and concentrate on producing bigger, better work. Your main objective is not to make nasty people nice, but rather to demonstrate to your followers what a great artist you are.
Thanks for reading.
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