This subject is a really important one. One that I myself have experienced several times over and I know has impacted every single one of my friends who identifies as an artist. If you’ve yet to experience artistic loss and have come to prepare, good on ya, know that it will come and it’ll be okay. If you’re no stranger to it and are looking for a new plan of attack, I hope this is a gift to you. Know that you’re not alone.
Not a single one of us is immune to the feelings of hurt and disappointment and a sense of loss when our hopes and expectations aren’t met in this life. But artistic loss hits just a little bit differently, doesn’t it?
Here are a few examples of artistic loss:
- Ever felt like that role you auditioned for WAS you. Like it had to be yours. You’ve never connected to something so much and you felt great about your audition…and you know you’re not supposed to get attached to auditions but this one was the exception…and then you don’t get it.
- Or you’ve been working so hard at the craft, networking, creating your own content, checking all the boxes and doing everything right and yet nothing is happening for you- but your friend or romantic partner is having a hot streak right now? You are SO thrilled for them and truly are happy for their success, but feel conflicted over the clashing feelings of being happy for them and sad for yourself?
There are so many other examples of artistic loss – I’m sure you guys can fill in the blanks there with your own experiences. There are a lot of ways that you can choose to navigate through a period of artistic loss. Many of us choose to just ignore it all together and bury it under more and more busy work. Others dwell on the loss for far too long and let it drag down their energy and motivation. Neither option is really the healthiest choice or conducive to continuing to kick ass in this business. So today, I present to you an alternative, a 5-step process to recovering from artistic loss.
Step One: Honor Your Feelings
It’s really easy to fall into a wormhole of judgement when we experience artistic loss. You’re upset about the loss and then feel stupid or ashamed for feeling upset about it and so on and so on. Take a step back. Step one is acknowledging what you’re feeling and why, without judgement.
Step Two: Take Care of Your Heart
What’s going on in the heart is very different from what’s happening in your mind. Free yourself enough to give yourself that emotional release. Whatever that means for you. Cry it out, play your moody music, scream into your pillow, call a friend and complain, take it out on your gym punching bag, whatever that healthy emotional release is, do it.
You need to feel those feelings and most importantly, get them out of your heart and body. If you keep those feelings buried inside you because you think you have to, they’ll just stay there and build up, and we don’t need to keep those turbulent and negative emotions hanging around within us – because I can guarantee that they’ll get in the way of something else you care about. Like the old saying goes, the quickest way out is through it. So pretend like this is a breakup with your high school love and emo it up, fam.
Step Three: Take Care of Your Mind
Step three is all about taking care of your mental state. Those wild thoughts probably need some taming, right? Try dumping every single thought out on paper. Everything. I don’t care if you don’t think it’s important- you can sort through to find the relevant bits later. But it’s important to see more tangibly what’s going on up there instead of being taken along on the rollercoaster of your thoughts.
Once you’ve word vomited that junk, take a look. What big themes and statements are jumping out at you? What’s the root of those items? What pieces of good advice and “rules” of the entertainment business that you know to be true don’t seem to be sinking in for you in this moment? Again, without judgement, make note of which of these thoughts are rational or irrational. If used correctly breaking down these thoughts can be a valuable roadmap of self-reflection to help you see some areas you might need to work on or reorient your mindset on.
Step Four: Process and Self-Care
Light up the sage and candles, put on some essential oils, wear your comfy clothes, brew a nice cup of tea or coffee and allow yourself some time to process. Reflect on this experience of loss. As unpleasant as loss is, there is always something you can learn. Maybe it’s about the business, maybe yourself, maybe both. The worst thing you can do in this situation is not learn and grow.
In this time of self-care and healing, this is where those affirmations come into play. I highly suggest you meditate, lean in to your intuition and listen for what you need in this moment. Typically, we know the answer already, we just need to listen for it. Create a list of affirmations for yourself during moments of artistic loss. Repeat each one 3 times, either in your mind or verbally. You can also write these out and pin them somewhere you’ll see every day if that’s useful to you. If you’re not sure where to start with affirmations, I made an artistic loss affirmations freebie just for you!
Step Five: Let it Go and Take Action
The final step in this artistic loss recovery process is two-part. Now that you’ve made it through all these steps, you gotta let the situation go. I know, I know, it’s easier said than done. But most people don’t give you four steps to do before this one! Most of the time we try to skip right to letting go, but it should be much easier after all the prep work you just did. If you need a little extra help. Try visibly signifying this by writing out what you need to let go on a piece of paper and (safely) burning it or ripping it up! Repeat those affirmations again if needed.
Once you’ve let that bad shit go, I want you to take immediate positive action. I find the best way to fill that artistic void you’re experiencing is to get your butt moving into a new creative action. That can be something as small as playing an instrument, drawing, creating a dream board, or diving into a new audition, writing a short film you’ve been thinking about, or learning about a new creative endeavor. Don’t let yourself stay in the creative void- build something new.
More Tips for Artistic Loss Recovery
There are seasons for all things. And that season could truly be as long as the winter, or it could be the difference between an hour. It can feel really hard to be celebrating other’s successes when you feel so disappointed in your own situation. But know that you can be an encouraging friend and then have your season to feel your loss an hour later if that’s what you need.
I’d also encourage you not to load up on more more more of everything just to feel like your busy. It might fill your schedule, but are those activities really filling you up creatively? Are they truly moving you towards your goals? I find that quality over quantity is key when recovering from an artistic loss.
Finally, share what you’re going through with your friends, family, and romantic partners. There’s no shame in feeling down or off your game and getting that support from your team is vital to longevity in this business. They’ll be better able to do that if they know what’s going on with you!