The Negative Self-Talk Troll

I am constantly battling the boss in my head that is the negative self-talk troll. This troll does not have a name, but they have a really loud and obnoxious voice that is difficult to tune out. It says things like, "Why would anyone like your art?" and "What's the point in sharing your art if it all sucks?". (This troll is me of course.)

negative self talk by danielle morgan.jpg

Many other artists I know grapple with their own version of the negative self-talk troll, and we all have our own strategies of approaching and dealing with it. What usually helps me is countering the troll's statements with logical ones. For example:

Troll: "What's the point in sharing your art if it all sucks?"
Me: "I share my art because my voice matters."

This back-and-forth dialogue reminds me a lot of rapper and artist Bunny Michael's meme project called Higher Self, which features a double self-portrait inspired by the Evil Kermit meme, with one side expressing Michael's thoughts, and the other side is them as their 'higher self' which expresses inner wisdom, love, and self-empathy. In an interview on the Out Magazine website, Michael says,

"I think I spread positivity but I don't ignore the negative- that's why there's the 2 perspectives; me and higher self. But sharing your feelings no matter [if] they are negative or not is an important part of our journey. Anger, frustration, fear — those feelings are just as valid. But like the cliche says "feelings aren't facts". I think we all need to be less attached to our emotions because they are temporary."

There have been times when I felt so cornered by negative self-talk that I for sure thought I was ready to give up on making art. Those intense feelings were only temporary, however; the next day I felt inspired to keep producing art.

What helps me the most is not fearing the negative self-talk troll, nor actively awaiting its presence in tiring anticipation. Rather, I try my best to look it straight in the eye when it shows up, acknowledge its presence and converse with it, ready to repeat this action again during the next inevitable encounter.