Sunday, July 27, 2008

Creative Circle Recovery Minnsota USA

10,000 lakes, 12 steps, 2 worlds

The Art of Gentleness
by Pamela Yates

So how can sensitive creative people handle criticism? I like this sign which hangs at a local cafe: If you can't be kind, at least be vague. I think it's a plea for gentleness but I vote that we should be more proactive!

Creative people must be gentle(ness) warriors on their own behalf. Ask any artist and she or he will tell you they hear and expect some criticism directed at their creative work, their ideas and even the very notion of being a "creative person" or an "artist." Many of us have learned to invite criticism, the good kind, because fair and meaningful criticism is a valuable gift. Creative people who want to grow and develop their work can hope for and work towards reaching a level of wellness, maturity and self confidence where we can listen to and learn from genuine, authentic, helpful criticism. Toxic criticism on the other hand is harmful, unhealthy and soul-destroying - even deadly to a creative spirit. So we must each learn to be our own gentle gatekeeper, alert to the quality of criticism we allow through our emotional filtering system. In my opinion it's worth remembering that toxic criticism speaks volumes about unfulfilled hopes and dreams, jealousies, fears, pain and sadness of the person doing the criticizing. Creatives must learn to tell the difference between wise criticism and toxic criticism, welcome the one and spurn the other.

Seasoned and beginning creatives have a two-fold delicate task whether we paint, write, weave, chisel, bead, sing, dance, make music or whatever: to learn to be honest and courageous in evaluating our own work; and to be honest and courageous about receiving feedback from meaningful non-toxic sources (for example, other artists, gallery owners, museum curators). It's advisable to keep a healthy, humorous sense of elasticity and curiosity towards all opinions. An opinion is a fickle thing. The insider's secret: be gentle with yourself and treat outside opinions with great suspicion. That way you'll stay an artist long enough to become more discerning about the quality of criticism from which you choose to learn.

The art of gentleness as it pertains to creatives is this: be a gentle warrior in support of your creative work; believe in and defend its honor at every opportunity.

Nurture your dreams, and happy creating!



Pamela Yates is a painter, creativity coach and transplanted Australian writing about the adventures of a creative person in recovery living in Minnesota USA. Her insights about life in recovery come from indigenous and western perspectives on healing our creative spirit: recovery and creativity seamlessly nurtured by tribal values. Her journey of healing includes 20-years as a sober contemporary artist supported by multi-cultural extended family including recovery from alcoholism, anxiety and sexual trauma. Her storytelling has roots in 12-step programs, the Red Road and teachings from the restorative Circle process. Her clients and paintings are in communities across the USA and abroad. To learn more about recovery and creativity visit Pamela's web site at and her online portfolio at or contact her via email at

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