Joanne Beaule Ruggles

Ask Yourself “What If?”

It is easy to get yourself into a semi-crazed state worrying about things that might occur in the future. This kind of worry happens frequently for artists, because so much of what we do is NOT completely under our control. No matter how accomplished your skill level becomes, be assured that some aspects of the creative process will always depend on chance.

Here is a strategy that I have found to be successful for moving through that sort of anxiety. Consider what is causing you concern and list the things causing you worry. After you have considered all the possibilities, go through the list answering the “what if?” question.

So for example, what is the worst thing that will happen if you don’t meet a particular deadline…are you simply going to be annoyed with yourself, will you possibly cause others who are depending on you to be frustrated, or will you actually get fired? If you aren’t likely to get fired because you are your own boss, you might determine this is more likely to be an irritant to your client. Once you have made that determination, you could quickly inform those that are depending on you that some sort of work-around may be necessary. While you may wish to avoid flagging your inability to meet a deadline, prompt intervention is likely to allow your anxiety to diminish while simultaneously allowing your client to have fair warning.

Frankly my experience has been that the worst thing you are imagining usually does not happen, which means that particular worry is unnecessary. But just in case that worst thing does happen – knowing that you can live through it may help you to ratchet your stress down a couple notches. It may also help you get unstuck and able to take appropriate action. The unknown is far more frightening than the known. Articulate your fear, and as a result – you usually can deflate it.

Artist in Despair, © 2016, Joanne Beaule Ruggles, Acrylic on canvas, 20 x 16″.