I often drift towards negative thinking, especially surrounding the quality of my work. As such, I used to find it dangerously easy to get discouraged. While I still do feel down about my work on occassion, I have developed strategies to combat the negativity. It doesn’t help 100% of the time, but it does improve my overall attitude towards my own work in a positive way.
The way I apporach negativity and lack of self-worth in my work is adapted from the techniques I learned in my struggles with depression and anxiety. The trick is to “reframe” the negative thoughts in a more positive light. Essentially, cognitive reframing is taking a negative thought, say “I failed that test, I must be stupid”, and turning into an opportunity to learn or grow. It’s not always the easiest thing to do however, negative thoughts can be very powerful.
One thing that can be extremely helpful is writing down your negative thoughts, and writing down your responses to them. I’ve found writing helps to solidify the reframed thought in the mind. It doesn’t really matter how you do it, in a journal, in a text file, on scrap paper. Whatever makes it easies for you to get those thoughts down. This isn’t a quick fix though, think of it like exercising a muscle, or practicing a design technique!
The best way to really understand how reframing works is by example. I’ve compiled a few negative thoughts that can appear in a creative’s mind, maybe you’ve had some of these yourself. For each negative thought I’ve also provided a positive reframing.
Negative Thought: “My work was criticized, I’m a terrible designer!”
Positive Reframing: "I recieved critique on my work, what can I learn from this to make my work even better?
Negative Thought: “All these designers are better than I am, I’ll never be that good!”
Positive Reframing: “True, these designers have more experience than I do but if I keep working hard my work will improve!”
As I said, making a habit out of this isn’t going to happen immediatly. But keep at it, and of course keep working hard making the best things you can make. Believing in yourself and thinking positively isn’t a cure-all, but it’s a vital piece of growing and becoming successful.