Overcoming Criticism and Rejection

Have you ever had a horrible performance and just wanted to hide?
Have you ever gone out on a limb with your work and had it completely rejected?

It can feel awful, right?

Maybe you spent a lot of time on your art, and were SO excited to share it with your audience, only to either hear crickets, or even worse, be shredded in criticism.

From the criticism comes a flooding of doubt, and I imagine you feel like your confidence is nonexistent.

As you are working on your next project or performance, you can feel that voice coming up saying,
I don’t know what I’m doing
They’re just going to hate it…

And you begin to question everything you’re doing, and your creative process goes from a place of joy to one filled with stress and anxiety.

You may even stop your work, paralyzed in place for fear of being booed, judged, and rejected,

How do you get past this block?
How do you regain confidence and feel amazing again?

 

This past weekend I went for marriage counseling with my fiance up at Zen Mountain Monastery.  We met with the Abbott, Shugen, who has been a guiding light for me since my divorce.

To have counseling, we had to meet in the Abbott’s room, and as I walked in, a huge realization came over me.

I had only been in this room once before, and it was five years ago. 

When I walked into this room five years ago, it was to have my first ever face to face teaching with a Zen teacher.  I was participating in the Intro to Zen Training weekend, and my heart was in my throat.  I was barely able to choke out my burning question of ‘how do I let go??’…..I wept that whole weekend and I was coming to grips with losing my home, marriage, and possible motherhood.

I felt shaky, unsure, and fragile. I was dealing with the largest rejection of my life.….hearing I was no longer loved or wanted.

Same room……

Now I was walking in hand in hand with my fiance, planning my actual ceremony in this Monastery.

Same room…..

I could barely conceive this was possible five years ago.  I though the rejection would destroy me. And the whole energy of the room was different for me.  There was more space, the room felt larger, and I felt so at ease.

Space and ease.

Maybe it wasn’t the room.

 

So, how do you find this in those heartbreaking moments of rejection?
How do you return to the same “room” and have different results?

 

As I sat in the chair facing Shugen, and looking at my life partner, one word came into my head,
CHANGE

Change is constant.

When I was facing the most devastating rejection of my life, this was my mantra. I learned I had been wrong for years…I thought things would always be the same.  I thought things were permanent….like my marriage, my home, and my performance fears.

I thought I would always suffer in the same places, choke on the big auditions, and not get picked for the roles I really wanted.

And yet…..I watched it all change.

My marriage I thought I would have forever….end.
My apartment I thought I would have children in…be sold and bought by a new couple.

And as I accepted this change, I found it freed me to take larger risks in my art, and a thought occurred…
What if I DID get picked for the roles I wanted?
What if I could give my best performance regardless of outside pressure?

What IF I could return to audition rooms and stages where I had been rejected before and now shine?

At first it was a sliver of an opening….a simple energy I took into my performance, and with each new song and dance, I would try it out….one day at a time.

And then I watched my whole performance career return, and directors and choreographers offering jobs and roles I was excited about!

I went in for a big Broadway audition where the pianist played the music horribly….and I wasn’t phased.  This was a HUGE difference from before when I would have been derailed and left feeling dejected.

 

So, when was the last time you felt criticized and rejected in your Art?

Take a moment and allow yourself to feel the disappointment.
Close your eyes, and place your hand on your heart or belly.
Connect to your breath, and allow the feeling to rise, and then fall.

So often, the strong emotion just wants to be acknowledged.  Often times, once we accept it and offer love, the feeling disappears.

Change.  It’s there and then it’s gone.

Turns out, it’s not permanent. It doesn’t last.

If this can happen with a feeling, it can happen in your Art.

It can happen in your performance, and how you are received by your audience. That criticism can change and WILL change when you return again and again with the intention of making great work.

You are becoming and changing in every moment, and what a miracle!
You feeling stuck is only a bump in the road.

Come back to your inspiration and your vision of what you want to SAY as an Artist.

Same room…..filled with space and ease.

 

 

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography

Rising to the Top

Do you feel like the “good guy” finishing last in your Art?
Do you watch others rise to the top, achieving stardom, who are essentially egomaniacs?

Why do THEY succeed, and you feel like you are barely being noticed?

You come to your Art from the deepest part of you, desiring to evoke change and emotion.  You want to make a difference in this crazy world, amongst so much current turmoil and pain.

Meanwhile the latest Transformers movie is raking in millions of dollars.
A song about killing and violence is top of the charts
Shady Artists are getting the record contract, movie deal, and gallery opening….

And it can be really easy to start going down the rabbit hole of,
Is this the ONLY way to make it today?
Is this what it takes to stand out from the crowd?

How do you stay in integrity with your Heart, and actually receive the acclaim you desire?

Are these two mutually exclusive?

It certainly can feel like that……

 

This week I watched a dear friend and colleague suffer.  She entered a contest where she created results that were astronomical.  She came to this contest with a pure heart, and pure intentions.

But her competition used bribery.
Her competition used dirty tactics.

And her competition won.

I found myself re-living so many moments of absolute frustration from my performance career.  I watched fellow performers rise to Broadway stardom, and behind the scene they were ungrateful, complaining, and in some extreme cases, were abusive.

I remembered a dancer who joined the Evita National Tour who showed up drunk and high for work.
I remembered a middle aged character man who sexually harassed several chorus women in my show, at a very highly respected regional theatre, and WASN’T fired.

How did we get there at the same time?

Did it matter WHO I was being, and HOW I showed up?

I found this week really coming into contact with a very strong need,
INTEGRITY

And I began to remember several other stories of success,

The Broadway star who welcomed me to his dressing room and posed for a silly picture.
The Acclaimed Director who shared stories of her children and gave me freedom to play in rehearsal.
The TV/Film star who shared his story with my whole tribe, offering free teaching and mentoring.

And I remembered sitting in a healing circle five years ago, my hands shaking as I wept, sharing my own story of shame and vulnerability and being shocked to the core when in this state, something truly special happened….

I wasn’t rejected. The group moved closer. And I experienced what I had been WANTING to experience all along,

CONNECTION.

I let the walls come down, and realized there had been a part of me I had kept hidden.  I kept it hidden behind blame, complaining, and comparison.

And I had a complete resurgence of my performance career.

The biggest difference?
HOW I FELT.

Tapping into this allowed me to build a whole new life from scratch, and build a business.  It allowed me to become the decision maker after years of feeling like my career and Art were completely out of my control. I wasn’t asking permission from the casting directors, or agents……I realized I actually had the power all along.  It took letting down the walls to see this.

I came into contact with HOW I wanted to succeed.

HOW I wanted to show up.

I was clear I wanted to affirm not only my life, but the lives of every Artist out there, as many as I could reach and touch.

It became clear I wanted to affirm you.

 

Indeed, there are going to be Artists out there who rise to the top without integrity.

But my question will always be, for how long?
Is that sustainable?

Our industry is filled with suicides, addiction, and misplaced obsessions.  There are so many Artists who have no idea who they are, they are so busy chasing an image or an idea….which is why they suffer so deeply and after a quick flame, burn out fast.

So, the power lies with YOU.

WHO do you want to be?
HOW do you want to show up?

Turns out, you don’t have to rise to the top one way.

You can rise in a way that affirms life FOR you and FOR your audience.

Take a moment, and ask yourself deeply,
What does SUCCESS mean for me?

 

Now create and connect to that every day.

Surround yourself with evidence and give yourself the support you need. We were never meant to do this alone.

You can create Art that rises to the top, and do this in a way that feels good; free, joyous, and full of connection.

Clarify how you want to show up, and watch your audience roll in.

I see your light, and it’s brilliant.

 

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography