You chose this career in the arts. You love it. It’s fascinating and it gives you the privilege to live your heart’s desire.
Yet, you know that this work takes more than passion. You need dedication and action to for your creative ideas come to life and to make a living as an artist.
As much as you love this work, some aspects of your career may feel more like an unsolvable puzzle or and unending maze. Always trying to figure out what’s your next job, show, or audition…. The demands never end.
As you juggle so many aspects of your career, it feels like the pressure coming from everywhere. Pressure to show up. Pressure to have the ‘right’ attitude or to ‘impress’ the ‘right’ people… And, the ultimate pressure, to make your art under all this pressure.
Living under pressure is quite challenging. You can feel the negative energy taking over. It’s sucking the the life out of you. Sometimes, as pressure starts disconnecting you from your creativity, you forget why you are an artist after at all. Slowly you lose your genuine connection to who you are as a creative.
But pressure comes with the territory. You can’t escape it. It’s part of the fine arts and entertainment world. So, how can you work with pressure while still maintaining your authentic connection to yourself, your art, your audience, and the people you love?
Here are some powerful, healthy options to help you work with pressure:
Keep a private journal
First, make sure this journal is for your eyes only. Subconsciously you can sabotage your journaling if you’re worried that someone else may have access to it. The journal is for you to be able to “say” anything that comes your mind about your life circumstances, the people you have to deal with, your self expectations…. It’s a place for you to reveal your true feelings.
As your feelings take shape on the page, you can see them and experience them with more clarity. When you’re under pressure, you often don’t have time to feel and acknowledge your feelings. But, when denied, feelings can come back to haunt you.
Your denied and repressed feelings wait in your mind, ready to show their power in indirect ways. They can make you tired, lost, and confused. They can make you emotionally over-reactive and out of control. They can show up as depression, anxiety, and addictions. They disconnect you from your authentic self – the birthplace of your authentic art and connections.
Journaling gives you the opportunity to reconnect with your real self. As your feelings come back to life in your journal, you come back to life as well. Deeply grounded in your own truth, you can reconnect with your creative energy.
It’s from this authentic and grounded emotional place that you can create your genuine art and make good decisions about your career.
Share your career experiences with someone you trust
Many times, when under pressure, artists can become emotionally isolated. Feeling alone and disconnected, the pressure becomes a big, looming presence. Having someone walk with you through the various pressures can create a safe emotional space for you to feel grounded in your own strength and power. Companionship gives you the energy to take on your battles.
But it does have to be someone you trust. You don’t need someone who will discourage you, judge you, or dismiss you. You need someone who can make you feel like ‘you got this.’
In fact, there is something very powerful and life sustaining about sharing your intimate struggles with someone with whom you have a strong bond. Nothing can replace the genuine emotional support of an authentic relationship. It fills you with the good energy of hope, encouragement, confidence, and trust that you can get somewhere.
Relationships can make you or break you. Surround yourself with those that believe in you, your success and happiness.
Meditation and mindfulness
When you’re overwhelmed by pressure, it can make you feel emotionally weak and out of control. Meditation and mindfulness expand your capacity to bear pressure and not let it get to you.
Meditation and mindfulness enable you to feel anchored in the midst of a storm, trusting that it can’t take you down. With practice, you can watch the different waves of life while you’re in charge of making your own decisions.
You may not like what you see, but with equanimity, you can make your way through where you need to be.
Putting all these three emotional skills together
As you get back in touch with your feelings, share your struggles, and build your ability to remain grounded under pressure, you’ll start to develop a very important emotional ability.
You’ll be able to act from a clean emotional space with strong boundaries to protect your emotional resources.
When you can preserve your emotional space, in the face of challenges, you can navigate your career pressures in a powerful new way. In your safe emotional space, you can be fully alive and present. You know who you are. You know how to use your talents to your greatest assets.
With healthy emotional boundaries you’re no longer losing yourself in pressure. Instead, you’re working with the pressure as you stand in a place of awareness and groundless. You remain “cool” under pressure, but still engaged.
You know how it impacts you, and you are aware of your automatic or unconscious reactions to pressure. You can tell if your reactions have anything to do with your past history or if you’re having an authentic, in-the-moment response to events.
Maybe you grew up with a lot of pressure to perform well, and only “perfect” delivery was acknowledged. Or, maybe you’re harshly judged or shamed when you broke into tears when under pressure. You’ll be able to tell the difference between the old stories and your current lived experience.
Working with pressure in a healthy way is very different from living under pressure. Instead of being at the whims of circumstances, you get to create your life and you career.
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.