As an artist, you have a deep calling to create. And, at the same time, you need your audience to show you how much they value your art or your performance. When you look at your audience’s reactions to your art, you see it as a reflection of who you and what you’ve created.
Your audience is your mirror.
You may think of looking at your audience, your mirror, as a very in-the-moment experience. When in fact, you may be seeing your entire lifetime reflected back at you – especially your earliest years.
Your childhood experiences can influence how you relate and how you expect people to respond to you. And, therefore, your early relationships may influence what you see when you look at your audience. Powerful emotions you’ve had when you were young may color the lens through which you see your audience’s reactions.
Dare to discover what that mirror is reflecting back to you. Here’s a hint… It’s likely a glimpse of your early life experiences.
Do you recall how you felt as a child at home, at school, or on the playground with your friends? Did you feel seen and valued? Did you feel encouraged and inspired? Did you feel supported? Were you allowed to play and discover yourself in your fantasy games? Did you feel like you were in your own hero’s world when you were playing with your friends? What about playing alone? Did you find yourself in a magical world?
What if you felt judged, criticized, or never enough? Maybe shamed? Maybe you didn’t feel seen and valued? Did you feel lonely and like you couldn’t fit in? Or, perhaps you were put down and made fun of? Were you scared of some bully who might get you if you showed up in the crowd?
Looking into your early relationships experiences can shed some light about what your audience means to you, here and now in your present. Your subconscious associations about early experiences can influence what you may unconsciously see when you look at current relationships, including your relationship with your audience. Your audience can become a symbolic representation of your early memories.
Your perception of your audience’s responses, the reflections in the mirror, might be just a projection of your childhood battles that you’ve not yet uncovered from your unconscious. When you can remember and look at these battles, you can begin to master them.
You’ll see the old scary feelings that you don’t want to see in yourself in the eyes of your audience. Even if some people in the audience admire your art or performance, if you haven’t faced your old battles yet, you’ll might only notice the eyes of disapproval, judgement, or rejection.
Internal unmastered conflicts can be easily triggered when you meet the gaze of disapproval and judgment.
Think of who you were as a child and how that may influence your art or performance today.
Were you the child who perpetually tried to please your critical parent? Now, you find yourself quickly caught up in an anxiety spiral if your performance isn’t perfect.
Maybe you were the child whose parents’ happiness depended on your own joy, leaving you feeling highly responsible for others’ happiness. Now, you’re likely to prioritize the audience’s pleasure above all else.
Or, perhaps you were the child who didn’t feel loved and important. Now, you’re on a quest to get all that love and attention from your audience. You feel empty and alone if you fail to connect.
You can find the freedom to create your own artistic career when you develop the courage to face what you see in your artist’s mirror and you are able to understand that your past is being reflected back at you through your audience’s gaze.
Now, you’re not the hopeless child anymore. The child who lost their safe, warm, and loving castle. The child that needs their magic hero world. The child who hadn’t had the chance to learn how to use their swords to win their battles. Or whose sword was taken away. The child who lost their crown.
You’re the Queen and King of your own world. You can own and face up to old battles to create your own story as a creative or performer. And part of being the creator of your own world is to learn how to look in the mirror with the eyes of a master. The master who knows how to use that reflection in the mirror to create their world.
I am Mihaela Ivan Holtz, Doctor in Clinical Psychology. I help creatives and performers with their life struggles, depression, anxiety, performance anxiety, creativity, relationships and love, PTSD, and addictions – to become their own best version.