A Gentle Reminder: What You Create Has Value (and so do you)

cotton grassYou might have noticed in reading my posts that I have a bit of a pet peeve about watching what you say. I’m a big fan of “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” And this doesn’t just apply to what you say about others, it applies to what you say about yourself and the things that you do/create/share.

I see this happen a lot with creative people. They produce a beautiful photo, brilliant art work, or incredible writing, and then, when they show it to you, almost instantly devalue their own efforts by adding “it’s not very good”, “I really don’t know what I’m doing”, or “it’s not my best work”. It makes. me. crazy.

Okay, I admit that it makes be MORE crazy because I used to do it – a lot – and I understand where their head is at. But it also makes me crazy because if it is something that you created, it comes from you, and from your heart, by saying that it’s not any good, you’re also devaluing yourself on a subconscious level. You’re holding yourself back, limiting your creative potential, and beating up your own self-confidence.

It may have started subtly enough. We might discover that by saying, “Oh, it’s not very good.” a friend might disagree and insist that the work is truly wonderful. Instantly, the reward part of our brain goes “Heeyyy… I say it’s bad, I get a compliment!” Soon we automatically unveil the fruits of our creative labor and simultaneously announce “it’s really not my best work”, while preparing for the freshly delivered reassurances and compliments from our audience.

While getting compliments is nice, this is really not the greatest way to validate the worth of your work. You create a pattern of constantly devaluing your creation and at the same time your own worth. This doesn’t mean that you have to go flying off in the other direction and declare to everyone who’ll listen how fabulous your latest work of art is. (Which may result in your friends running for the hills when you appear.)

The simplest way to stop devaluing your work really is, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” or “keep your mouth shut”. Oversimplified, maybe, but the idea is to get you to stop trash talking yourself and smothering your creativity and self-esteem. By all means, show friends and strangers your art work, but do not tell them how awful it is. We create art for art’s sake, what you have created is what it is, good, bad or ugly, but it is a part of you, treat it the way you want to be treated.

Beaver Lake SunsetWhen someone compliments what you do, a “simple thank” you is the most powerful phrase you can utter. On a subconscious level, you’re validating that what you have made has value and so do you. It takes a conscious effort to stop whatever else you were going to say and just say “thank you”, but once you get the hang of it, it can be a truly liberating experience.

Those two small words can help grow your confidence, boost your creativity and inspire your faith in your own creative processes.

Tricia Goes on a Rant -or- If You Don’t Have Something Nice to Say, Don’t Say Anything At All.

Okay, brace yourselves. This is purely editorial, no research, and no citations. Just a rant.


It is sparked, I confess, by Madonna’s Super Bowl halftime show; or rather, by the reactions to it I have seen on Facebook, Twitter and other internet sites. In particular, the comments about Madonna being too old, too flabby, to wrinkled, etc.

What the HECK people?????

First of all, how many 53 year old women have you insulted by making these remarks? It’s hard enough in today’s society to feel good about how you look and what you do with your life, particularly as you age. Then, to hear how awful someone like Body Image. The subjective concept of one's physical appearance based on self-observation and the reactions of others.Madonna looks, when you’re already comparing yourself to her and how much better she looks than you (even if you’re YOUNGER than 53!), is probably a crushing blow to anyone’s self-esteem.

Then, consider the comments or insinuations that she is too old to be dancing around and singing on stage; something that she LOVES! Does this mean that 53 year old women should stop performing? Should they not enter marathons? Should they not climb mountains? Should they stay home and quietly “act their age” and not present themselves as an affront to the “rest of us”?

There is an alarming propensity in this society to bask in all that is negative, inflammatory and even cruel. Reality TV show hosts tear people apart on national TV. Reality show contestants insult and backstab each other for our entertainment. Websites and print media revel in hunting down or making up negative information about celebrities; pointing out every wrinkle, patch of cellulite, error in judgment or character flaw.

How, in the face of seeing people that we admire and maybe aspire to be like, are we supposed to nurture the last vestiges of our self image?

Political campaigns are filled with hateful attack ads, but we perpetuate the cycle by continuing to vote for the people that condone them.

On the RocksOur children get bullied in school and on the internet.

They say that children say the cruelest things, but does it occur to us that they might have learned this at home? We come home from our day and vent about our co-workers or customers or people we saw at the store. We criticize their intelligence, their looks, their behavior or their usefulness to society. Sometimes even right to their face.

What happened?? How did we get so… MEAN??

What happened to that old adage, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all?”

Why has it become okay to tell an empowered, talented, vibrant woman that she is too old?

How can we expect our children to grow up kinder and gentler when these harsh criticisms, mockery and cruelty are so common place?

Let’s start with a little self-censorship. Maybe it’s okay to criticize Madonna’s artistic choices for her halftime show, but really… her AGE?? Her LOOKS?? I say way to go Madonna for having the level of energy, enthusiasm and physical fitness she does at age 53.

Girls, don’t listen to those negative comments? YOU CAN accomplish amazing things regardless of your age. You ARE a beautiful, wise and powerful woman.

Brotherly LoveLet’s resolve – it’s early enough in the New Year yet – to cut back on unkind words, encourage each other to aspire to accomplish anything and follow their dreams, point out each others good points instead of the flaws.

I confess, I slip and criticize or bitch about people on occasion. I have my opinions and it’s hard not to voice them. But seeing these things happening leads me to consider the cost of words, the energy they can carry. Don’t you think that the more you focus and comment on the negative things in life, the more power you give them?

Stop. Think before you speak. Let go of your negative criticisms. Say something positive. Give back power to the things that are good in this world.

Or don’t say anything at all.