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  • Writer's pictureDr. S

Observations Of An Artist-Psychotherapist - Gallerist

Updated: Apr 3, 2022

As I have said before, human behavior intrigues me. It always has. I can remember being in elementary school and standing on the sidelines of most any group interaction and noticing their behaviors. Much of this likely came from my family culture where we were taught "What if someone sees you doing that." Somehow, this molded me into being the one who is seeing others doing "that." As I got older, I learned how to self-love and experience self-compassion, so it no longer matters if others see me doing "that" because I know that I am being true to my morals and values. Therefore, I do not give others the power to judge me.

This is a concept that has served me well in recent months. When we first made the decision to open a fine arts gallery, most people responded negatively, judgmental, and even insulting. They would say things such as, "Are you sure you know what you are doing?" Or they would laugh at me and say, "Who opens a business in the middle of a pandemic?" I would smile and answer, "I believe it is meant to be." I was thinking other thoughts. I was thinking to myself, "Yes, I believe it is meant to be, and I have successfully run more than one business, I have a doctorate degree, I have done my research, my husband supports this adventure, and I have the resources to start a debt free business. Worst case scenario, nothing happens. Yes, I am happy to do this."

Why on earth would they judge me and look at me as if I did not know what I was doing?

The answer to that question is simple.

At the present time, this same trend appears to be occurring in my life. I have received invitations to participate in multiple, nationally known, artist events. It is an excellent opportunity to market myself, my art, and our gallery. My husband is incredibly supportive. This is an accomplishment for any artist and one of which any artist should be proud. In all this excitement, I wanted to share the news with many other artists. The reactions I have received have varied from supportive excitement to no reaction/not even acknowledging what I said, to people rolling their eyes at me. WHAT? Are we still in high school? Do professional intelligent adults still roll their eyes at others? Why would a person roll their eyes at someone who is sharing good news?

The answer to that question is simple.

Strangers have walked into my gallery and without even saying hello they immediately begin criticizing and telling me what they think we are doing wrong. They then offer solutions for how to correct what they believe we are doing wrong. I smile and redirect the conversation, or I kindly explain why I feel we made the right decisions, but sometimes I will ask them to share their knowledge. I appreciate suggestions and I love to brianstorm with others. After all I know I have a lot to learn in this world. However, criticism belittles a person and it can feel that my intelligence is questioned.

Typically, the shared knowledge is an opinion that I should conform to the norm that others have determined. A very stay inside of the box perception. I always thank them for sharing, and I do consider their advice. I believe I am very much a dreamer and an out of the box thinker. I find that most people feel the need to put me back into the “normal, keep it safe” box. Why do people feel the need to put others back into a box and limit their dreams, or judge their intelligence? Most people have educated themselves before making a decision. Even when people act out of naiveness, they will still learn and grow. Why do others not see growth opportunities?

The answer to that question is simple.

The ability to observe, and then think with an educated mind, feel with a loving heart, and apply biblical wisdom to these experiences has allowed me to arrive at an answer I believe is fitting to all these questions. The answer, I believe is simple. The answer is often fear. They are reacting from a fearful mindset. They likely believe that their intentions are good, and they are trying to offer a type of care to me by projecting these fears so that I might be safe. I admire this gesture of care, even if the behavior does not feel caring.

The fear of judgement, the fear of failure, the fear of loss, the fear of rejection, the fear of humiliation, the fear of embarrassment, the fear of change, the fear of death, the fear of financial loss, the fear of being bullied, the fear of being treated as less than, and the fear of hard work, is a strong prison many people live in every day. People will convince themselves, "it’s not fear, I am just being practical. I am a realist. I believe it is wise to avoid taking risks." Yes, these concepts carry much truth. But here is my question for people to ponder, what opportunities might you be missing when you allow fear to dictate your choices? What experiences might you never know if you allow fear to have power over your thinking? Yes, you may fail, you may be judged, you may feel humiliated, or you may lose. But guess what, this is also how you learn. For me, I prefer to experience the failure, the loss, etc. rather than be stagnant in a safe box.

Do not get me wrong. I know all too well that when those fears do come true, it hurts!! It hurts like hell! I am also aware that bad things can happen and I do my best to avoid bad happenings. This adventurous -do not know until you at least try mindset has often put me on the outside of connection with people. It can be a lonely place where the reality of the aloneness hurts. I have a higher tolerance for this because I have been alone most of my life. But isn't this one of the stereotypical traits of an artist? Alone, different, non-conforming, out of the box thinker. So, artists have formed their own community. Yet within this community, artists are dismissing, critical, defensive, and rolling their eyes when a fellow artist has exciting news.

These observations are merely my observations, and I do not pretend to think a solution exists that will magically stop the eye rolling. The reality is life in an American culture causes disconnection and aloneness. People must work, and work hard, at removing the aloneness and to reconnect. But with so many moving parts to that equation, we can only put our best effort forward, and be true to ourselves. So, when others try to put me back in the box, I will simply smile and offer kindness. I will thank them for sharing their opinion, and I will continue down the path that I am traveling.

Dr Shannon Barnes

Gallery Owner


Appraisal Services

Published Author

Licensed Professional Counselor

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