I’m wary of compulsive optimism, the idea that you have to always “turn your frown upside down” and be positive. I think it’s a damaging way to move through the world.
It’s no surprise that the first chapter of Judith Weston’s book The Film Director’s Intuition, which I started reading recently, resonated with me. Weston goes against the grain of affirmations and compulsive positive thinking, and offers what I find to be a much more useful model for approaching creative projects: permission to fail.
“If we approach a project declaring , ‘I trust myself. I’m going to nail it. I’m going to do it perfectly.”–that’s not trust, that’s bravado. And bravado is a form of denial; it’s pretending we’re not afraid when, in fact, we are. Denial is a little lie to ourselves. And when we lie to ourselves, we shut down our creativity.
If, on the other hand, our mindset is, “I trust that whatever I do will be worth trying”–that is, worth risking–we give ourselves permission to fail. Permission to fail is exactly the same as permission to learn.“