Nervous people are less likely to try things. People with low self esteem don’t take risks so easily and may not put themselves forward. Sometimes, what it takes to lift a person so that they’ll take a chance and have a go, is heartbreakingly little.
I’ve seen this across all the spaces I’ve worked in. Giving people the smallest boosts to their confidence can have huge consequences. Just letting people hear that they’ree good enough, welcome, acceptable, that their contribution is valid can be enough to change what they’re able to do. For anyone leading a space, handing out praise is a powerful choice that invariably brings greater engagement and effort from people.
This is something we can all do. Taking a moment just to acknowledge what someone else did will help boost their confidence. ‘Thank you’ gets a lot done all by itself. Telling people what you liked about what they did will boost their self esteem. The more we build that for each other, the more can happen in a space – be that a moot, a learning circle, a closed ritual group or anything else of that ilk. It applies just as well outside Pagan spaces, too.
Giving positive feedback also has a really interesting impact on the person doing it. It’s a powerful thing, giving praise and encouragement to someone else. If you want to lift your own confidence, then offering encouragement to someone else is a really good way to do that. Of course it also tends to lead to positive interactions. People liking each other’s stuff is a good basis for friendship. If you’re a shy and socially nervous sort of creature and assume that the people who do stuff you love won’t care about your opinion… I can promise you that anyone who appears to be a functional human being responds with delight to being told someone liked their stuff. There are exceptions but they tend to be self-announcing and a bit of observation will flag them up.
When we support and encourage people, more happens. A ritual where very few people feel able to speak or take an active role is a much poorer thing than a ritual where everyone is engaged and feels able to give of themselves. It’s the same in social spaces and creative spaces. The more able people feel, the more good stuff happens. The things that we can do to be part of that are fairly small and startlingly effective. Finding the courage to approach someone and say that you liked what they did is so powerful.
On the creative side, the vast majority of people – even the ones you’ve heard of – are struggling to make things work financially. Second jobs and/or poverty are normal. Most creative folk aren’t in it for the wealth! Which means that positive feedback is precious, and can be the difference between someone keeping going and not keeping going. So if you ever have an opportunity to tell someone whose work you love that it means something to you, get in there. You could be the difference between them keeping going and giving up.
And just to reassure you, this isn’t a thinly veiled request for positive feedback. Those ‘likes’ people leave here on the blog posts day to day are always helpful for keeping me cheered and motivated. I’m currently in good spirits about my creative life, there are lots of good things going on.