Do you know about the seductive feedback loop?
I introduce the idea that feedback can be dangerous for the artist.
So if you haven’t read the part the sets up the loop idea, you can read that here.
Or if you already know feedback sucks and want a roadmap of how to escape the loop, dive straight in.
First I’d like to describe the seductive feedback loop. What is it? Well, based on what I’ve observed, as the habit of needing feedback gets stronger we develop a belief around needing it and then a feedback loop ensues.
It looks something like this;
- I have an awesome idea.
- Start creating.
- Decide to get feedback.
- Dump loads of opinions on my new creation.
- Confusion sets in as I try to make sure all opinions are satisfied
- Judge my creation and abandon it. Very Sad. Start back at #1.
- Change my creation andconvince myself the changes based on other peoples ideas are making my creation more uniquely me. WTF?
- Enter ‘franken-creation’.
- Broken heart.
- Confusion and stress.
- Need help. More feedback anyone?
- Loop back to #1 or #5
As I took a closer look at the loop above I realized something deeper was going on.
Sure there are the thoughts that lead to habits that lead to beliefs. But this almost auto-pilot assumption and urge to know what others thought so I could make things “better” ran deep.
As I unravel this ‘feedback’ loop today, I have realized that it has it’s roots in a much more primal and fundamental program. The program of needing to be liked.
Now the program of needing to be liked, is a close cousin to the program of needing to be loved a.k.a fear of abandonment. Both very powerful childhood survival tactics that made sense when I was two years old but certainly not now.
Because guess what? Feedback never made me or my creations any better.
And that is a very important realization. Things change, evolve maybe, but rarely are they better or worse, just different. Just like people.
I labored and toiled for years to please everyone. And I tied myself in knots doing it. My unique creations often died an early death or death by ‘complications’. And I was getting more and more stressed as nothing ever came to completion. Nothing was ever ‘birthed’.
Adrenal fatigue sets in
Now I don’t want you to think I was necessarily conscious of what was going on. Sometimes I was, but often I wasn’t. And I don’t want you to think that feedback isn’t useful at times, because it can be.
I also want to make it perfectly clear that this was my experience. Other people aren’t as desperate for validation as I once was. Other artists are tougher and stronger and have different programming to mine. They can dance, twirl and laughter in a room full of criticism and not care one bit.
But here’s what I’ve found. An incredible amount of artists I know are just like me. Sensitive, healers, seekers with a vision and eternal lovers of the mystery. We see things other folks don’t see. And that’s the point.
Of course there are always going to be those who don’t get it, like it, or understand it. They’re not supposed to. Or if they do, they’ll ‘get it’ in an unexpected way and in their own time. Just like an artist makes her art in a way no-one else can.
Sometimes it happens that you really don’t like a piece of art someone has put out into the world. But then days later, sometimes years later, you see that same work of art again. And for some reason, this time, a chord is struck inside you, possibly one you didn’t even know existed before. New meaning is made. Consciousness is born. All because some ‘crazy’ artist wasn’t afraid to put their work out there even when some people judged it.
If you really need feedback I suggest two things:
Firstly surround yourself with friends and colleagues who are advocates for your unique specialness in the world. Remember that an ‘advocate’ is a noun, and it’s also a verb. It’s someone who publicly supports, recommends, champions, urges and endorses you as an artist.
Then from those folks, with incredible care, choose a person or two, who you believe to be both talented and humble. Ask them specifically for what you would like feedback on. Don’t open it out for a general mish-mash of comments. Keep it specific. You don’t need sweeping generalizations.
You need fine tuning. And don’t forget to be conscious of where you are in your process. Does your creation need time to gestate or take some form first? And if you want to be really advanced about it, do what my courageous storytelling mentor Terrie Silverman advises. Ask them, ‘What drew you in? What captured you? What would you like to see or hear more of?’.
Always ask them to focus on what’s working, because we get more of what we focus on.
You might not relate to any of this
You may have a resiliency to the thoughts and feelings of others that I just wasn’t endowed with.
But I am a complete and hopeless empath and I’ve had to teach myself what healthy boundaries look and feel like. I have had to learn to protect my art from feedback of all kinds, the unwanted, unconsidered, sloppy, negative, uncaring feedback and even the inflated, superficial, positive feedback.
The biggest challenge of all has been to come to terms with the debilitating impact I’ve allowed all kinds of feedback to have on my creative process.
So as you let these ideas digest don’t forget the most important thing you can do is go out and create with wild abandon and don’t ask permission and don’t listen to naysayers.
Just say ‘Fuck ‘em’.
[To read Part 1 of this blog article, click HERE]
Also published on Medium.