How to deal with self-criticism
Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain, but it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”
— Dale Carnegie

I’m just going straight after the tough subjects, right? People can be so unnecessarily (and many times unintentionally) cavalier about subjects like emotional and mental health and in my experience I find it so healing to hear how others cope with stress and process different situations in life.

I could write you an entire list of my many awkward and difficult experiences growing up that led me into a habitual cycle of vicious self-criticism but I will save you the pain for today. (Maybe I will tell you more if you ask nicely…bonus points if you want to buy me a coffee.)

As I entered my late twenties it became brutally clear that I was no longer a “twenty something" young person and I truly entered full adulthood without really realizing it. What shouldn’t have been a surprise to me was that along with my many difficulties in my younger years remained while balancing new stressors like student debt with less-than-ideal paying jobs. As much as I tried to deny it to myself and everyone around me, my past traumas were still there deep down. For years upon years I put the unnecessary pressure upon myself of appearing put-together and strong while not recognizing that my inability to process emotions correctly would be my biggest weakness.

Many days my internalized frustrations would hit a crisis point and the self-criticism would only continue to escalate. Back in those days it was far too easy to grasp onto a “life isn’t fair” mentality comparing my reality to others - any of this sound familiar? So much of what I am describing is cultural and part of our human condition and what we believe about the world around us bleeds into everything we do and say.

One day I decided to start paying attention to what the voice inside my head was saying about me. That voice and I often did not get along and I didn’t like or agree with anything they had to say. How did I get to this extreme point of believing that everything I start will not be worth it in the end? I began unpacking what lies have I believed about myself and when I began to grasp onto such hurtful negativity. Many instances that the lies were rooted took place in a comment someone made in a fleeting moment and I realized that most of my memories were of hurtful things people said in a time of escalated emotion. The negative thoughts about myself quickly turned into negative thoughts about others - I had so much internalized frustration about how they made me feel even though they most likely were unaware of the damage they caused in a single moment. Other traumas are more complicated and difficult to unpack but it is amazing to see how many of my insecurities were rooted in a simple comment made by a person while passing by. When did I decide that meaningless, fleeting moments should define my life?

I know so much of what I am describing here should really be discussed with a therapist if you have access to one, but even beginning the process of working through your thoughts and feelings can be the game changer in your art - your career - your family - your life.

Art has always just been a reflection of me, all of the good, beautiful, and ugly parts about being a human. It amazes me to see how all of my favorite songs I have written came from some of the worst traumas of my life.

Do not get me wrong - the process of turning your pain into something beautiful is no easy task. What I can (almost) guarantee you is that not only do you desperately need to create art to discover the beautiful in your life but so does everyone around you. How many people are you going to inspire by opening yourself up and pushing through the self-criticism? I look at it this way: instead of feeling isolated and alone I understand that the more I involve others in my processing means the more people I am surrounded with.

What I wish I could tell my past self today is to push through every critical thought towards myself and through the process I will gain more in support from others and creativity than I thought was possible.

I am not an expert in mental health so if you are struggling, please reach out for help and know that there is always hope. I have gone to therapy throughout my life and I am proud of what I have overcome. That being said, here are a few ideas that can keep the creative juices flowing!

#1 use a junk journal to jot down every fleeting thought

i’m talking the bad, the good, and the ugly here! i adore seeing people’s journals because it is a rare opportunity to see how their mind works. often times the best and most prized journals are junky, stacked full of sheets with circles, arrows, lines crossed through…these journals are great for to-do lists, call mom notes, quotes, and negative thoughts that you want to address. you don’t need an answer for anything in this journal but getting in the habit of writing things down will begin the process of processing all of those thoughts you wrestle with.

#2 give yourself one achievable goal each week

maybe you are not so critical about your art itself but instead other factors about your day-to-day life clutter your mental (and physical!) space to do the thing you love the most. for me i would get extremely down on myself for not being as physically fit as i once was so i joined orange theory one early morning out of a place of desperation and never looked back! now i am doing physical training and weight lifting and my spirits could not be higher. instead of feeling exhausted and incapable i replaced those thoughts by reminding myself of how strong i am and how far i’ve come. for others it could be as simple as cleaning your desk every night before bed or taking an extra 10 minutes in the morning to stretch and reflect on your day before it begins. these goals mean more to your mental and emotional health than you probably know and the impact can be huge.

#3 withhold all judgement while creating

this was the biggest lesson i took away from my music theory professor in college. he told me that i cannot forget the phrase “withhold all judgement” while referring to my songwriting process. it took me years to figure out that most days i can’t just sit down and write a song. since music is always coming to me at random moments like in the car or walking the dog, he encouraged me to record every idea in a voice recorder and NEVER throw away lyrics i write. since then i have kept every single voice recording and i can now point back to random 2015 voice memos in my phone as later becoming some of my best songs. every sketchbook page and horribly-painted watercolor flower i painted when i was first learning are now some of my most cherished items in my collection. this was my biggest takeaway in my entire music career and now i am giving it to you, right now, for free. you’re welcome :)

Okay, that’s it for now! I hope that opening up and sharing more of my story and how I deal with self-criticism encourages you. Feel free to send me feedback or questions at any time.

With love,

-Paige

Paige Nosack
Stop rethinking, start R E I M A G I N I N G
Do more than is required. What is the distance between someone who achieves their goals consistently and those who spend their lives and careers merely following? The extra mile.
— Gary Ryan Blair

To be honest guys, this is one of the biggest steps I've taken in a long time. I have had a dream to create a space that is unique, encouraging, and allows me to share what I love with others. The whole purpose of this website is to encourage speaking words of love and positivity - even in a dark and uncertain world.

So many of you have been so so incredibly encouraging. Some of you have been asking me to create something like this for years. It is true, I have been working as a contracted artist for years just word-of-mouth and have been commissioned with more projects than I can count. I truly began to see my potential when I started creating chalkboard art for my local Starbucks in OR and word started spreading about my unique style. From wedding signage to hand painted signs, I have gotten the honor to create some really beautiful pieces. Now, the beauty of each piece truly came from the collaboration with the client from conceptualizing to the finished product is what I'm referring to. Making someone smile by having a beautiful new piece for their home or as customized gift for someone else gives me more joy than I can describe.

On the other hand, I have been doing so much rethinking and have ultimately hesitated drastically. I have paid for the hosting of this website for months and haven't had the courage to really put myself out there. All negative comments I've heard over the years (not even related to my art) seem to cloud me when I'm about to take a big step and face the potential of either seeing success or being rejected. However I truly believe that any area of life that is faced with incredible amounts of pushback must be worth fighting for, especially when you are fighting for something that is positive in this world.

So to just be up-front with all of you, I am hoping to create an online community where I can be sharing the gifts of my friends and other artists here as well. Comments have been enabled on this blog as I want to hear your feedback!! People have been asking for some of my recipes and other fun stuff that I've shared on Instagram over the years and this blog will reflect some of that fun content as well. I am passionate about helping others unlock their potential in their gifting so I plan on having free resources for aspiring artists as well (or just for people that want to give lettering a shot, it is relaxing as all get out!!). Please interact here, and feel free to share the love!

Ways to get involved:

- Reach out to me on IG about your art or artists that I should be considering to feature/collab with! Please tell me their/your story about how you got started and how your art impacts your life and those around you. I love to connect with other artists! (@lettersandpaiges on Instagram)

- Let me know about local charities that we should be impacting together. What groups are working to support families and individuals that the proceeds from L&P orders should support in your opinion? I want to hear your thoughts!

- Share, share, SHARE on social media. Facebook is a great place to share my work as well as some of the resources that I will be making available.

- Pinterest is a must. If you see anything you like, a way that really helps me is adding my work to your wish list or art boards. This will be greatly appreciated!

 

Thank you all for the support and I am so thrilled to take this next step in sharing this space with each of you.

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